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FAQs on Marine pH, Alkalinity 6

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 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,

Sand bed and pH questions? Hello all that keep me sane, << Blundell today. >> Just a few quick  questions. Will crushed coral substrate keep the PH in my salt tank at a desired  level ? Like maybe 8.2 << It helps, but good salt mixes and proper (meaning when needed) additives are also important. >>? Is crushed coral suitable for a  DSB ? << It is the best choice if you ask me. >>   If so what would be minimum depth ? << Well you specified you wanted a DSB so I'll say 3 inch min and 4 inch is best. >>  How about 1.5  to 3.0 size rocks ? << Rocks? Hmmm, well I would just buy crushed coral because with all the money you invest in your aquarium it is a minimal addition for something so great. >>   What do you think about fine grain sand at one  end and crushed coral on the other for a DSB ? << I would rather see you use fine grain on the bottom half, and crushed coral on the top half.  This is actually very popular, and seems to be the best way to go (so the current trend is). >>  Will Tufa rock raise the PH  of salt water ? << No. >>  Will low PH keep my Copperband butterfly from eating  ? << Sure, if it is low enough. >> I know you've caught on by now so here's the story. 1 Copperband 2.5  inches long in a 10 gallon quarantine tank.  No substrate, bare bottom, 1 mini penguin filter and heater, room lighting only. All tests are good except low PH, around 7.7 . I'm not adding any medication or supplements to the water  but changing out about a 1/2 gallon a day. << With two gal water change you could probably fix the pH problem. >>  There is also a good piece of  live rock in there from the main tank which he picks from. The LFS said the butterfly was eating Cyclop eeze but I haven't seen him eat anything. << That pH is low.  I would be debating if your quarantine is now doing more harm than good.  I'd be tempted to throw him in the tank, or at least do a large water change in the Qt. system.  That water condition doesn't sound like it will help him make the transition to your tank, just add stress to him. >> How long before he dies of starvation ? << Well a couple of weeks, but of stress maybe sooner. >> The fish looks as good as  he cost and I don't want him in the main tank until he's eating or passed the quarantine test.  If I try the freshwater clam trick will that foul the  water to fast ? << I don't know what that is. >> By the way I control the light cycle with the room lights  on the same schedule as the main tank.    Sorry about the long  description I just wanted an expert opinion. << Sorry you got me today. >> Thanks and lets keep those  books coming. << Will do. >>   <<  Blundell >>

Major pH swings, even after buffering? 8/26/04 Hi guys. First off, love the website. It's nice to see a massive resource that covers a wide variety of topics, while promoting good pet care-taking, and downplaying those pets which are difficult or impossible to keep (even though they might look nice). <danke shoen... and Wayne Newton karaoke for everyone!> Anyhow, here's the deal. I have a 25 gallon tank, operational for 8 months, with 5 little fish, 3 clams, 2 scallops, and a variety of soft and hard corals (I know it may be a but much for 25 gallon, but everyone gets along great). <maybe great for the short run... and do consider how/what/if those scallops are feeding on or if they are slowly starving like most in captivity> I have 2 15W Actinic03, 1 15W LifeGlo, 1 15W 50/50, 1 7W Black Light (moonlight). Last week I bought and lost a pygmy angel after the first day, and I am sure it has to do with pH swings because the fish are breathing like mad an hour after the light go on (ph is sometimes 7.6!!). <yikes> I have to buffer the water almost everyday to bring it back to 8.3, but within a day or two it returns to 7.9 or lower. <perhaps the imbalance is from excessive dosing... a see-saw effect. Do try a series of large water changes to remedy this imbalance. Two large changes of 50% in the next two weeks here> My KH has gone from 10 dKH to 18 dKH. <yikes... indeed a danger and symptom of see-saw dosing> I have been performing water changes twice a week to bring it down, but I can't keep this up forever. <hmm... have you tested your test kits? That is to say, test water samples on different test kits (different brands like at the LFS or friends houses) to confirm the accuracy of your kit(s)?> I have read about CO2 having an effect. I do run a skimmer during the day (which really oxygenates the water), but I turn it off at night as it is in my bedroom. <Yikes again! This is a sure fire way to cause a sudden and dangerous drop in pH. The pH naturally drops at night and the aeration helps to keep it up. Double trouble without it> Also, because I want my all my corals to live well, I feed a wide variety of liquid foods (MicroVert, PhytoPlex, Zooplex, Marine Snow, Zo?vitamin), <Overall... such products are easily abused if not outright pollution in a bottle> and this keeps my nitrates at about 40-60. I have tried numerous buffers, Kalkwasser, etc., but they all push my alkalinity up over time. I have tried using Cycle to use up the KH, but I had a bad wipeout from Cycle a few months ago (I think the bacteria ate up all the oxygen). Anyhow, I am sure the overstocking and feeding is a factor, but could the CO2 and nitrate levels effect the pH in such a drastic way? <small concerns here> Thanks for all your time, and keep up the great work. <thanks kindly> PS. Just a suggestion, but it would be neat to see an area on your website with shows a chart of corals with the technical names, store names, and a picture or two that can be enlarged. <good suggestion... I wish we had the time. Will look forward to someone like you perhaps in the future joining our crew to help us build such content <G>> I like to know what I am buying before I go to the pet store, and also to know if it can be sustained without submitting it to a slow death. I returned a slug to the store a few weeks ago since they only eat special sponges, and it didn't take to the angel formula. I got that info thanks to your website.  =)   Cheers, Simon <kindly, Anthony> Carbonate hardness and Stable pH Hello Guys, I recently acquired some Xenia and read up on your site that they are very PH sensitive and require High Ph ~ 8.3.   My 16 Gallon Tank with a 10 gallon refugium has a saturated Two Little Fishies Kalkwasser drip of about 100 ml per day. I also dose 8 ml per day of C-Balance a A and B. I ml of Sea Elements every three days and 1 ml of Iodine every Three days. About a week ago I measured my calcium level and it was about 320 My Ph was about 8.4 and my dKH at 20. I tried to confirm this by running a separate Alkalinity test which resulted in Total Alkalinity at 5.5 mg / L and a Borate Hydroxide component of 1.7 mg / L . This would make my carbonate alkalinity roughly 3.8 mg/L. I tried to slowly reduce this number by water changes and adding an Ionic calcium supplement only (Seachem Reef Complete) and I succeeded in doing so by the end of the week the carbonate hardness was at 15 dKH and my calcium level had risen to 410 ppm. <Your tank seems to be out of ionic balance. I would stop doing supplements at this time and just do some water changes to get you tank back into balances. I think your problem might be a lack of the proper amount of magnesium but before you do any supplementing or testing you need to get back to stable.> My problem is now the Xenia are stressed. They seem to be getting very thin and the PH seems to stay at a constant 8.0. I could use SeaChem's reef buffer to raise the PH but this is also likely to increase my carbonate alkalinity and lower my calcium. Other parameters of the tank are 1/10 HP chiller temp set at 77 F. About 30 lbs of Live rock, 3 inch aragonite sand bed, and 3 inch Kent marine biosediment sand bed in the refugium. Can you guys suggest a method by which I can keep my carbonate hardness lower without lowering my PH. <Water changes will do the trick for you for the moment. I'd say about 25% at this point with another to follow in a couple of days.> I will be switching to a 55 gallon main tank, 10 gallon sump and 10 gallon refugium within the next two months any thoughts on how to make this change without stressing my livestock.  <Use as much of your old water as you can to do the change over. And move things very slowly, perhaps something every week or so. That's your best chance.> Regards Manny Bonet       

How do I keep my pH up?  8/2/04 Please help with pH! I have been trying for 2 months to maintain a steady pH over 8 in my tank, but it stays around 7.65-7.7. I have added reef builder to increase dKH, I slow drip Kalkwasser through a reactor, and I still have to give it a shot in the arm with about a tablespoon of Kalk powder in a cup of water directly to tank. The latter method sends pH up to about 8.25, but then it starts its slow death spiral back down. What is the secret to keeping pH above 8 and steady? << Wow that is tough.  I would start with a large water change, turn off the reactor, don't add any Kalkwasser, and then discontinue any additives for a while.   Basically, start over and see what happens.  The water you are adding (freshly mixed salt water) should be around 8.2.  What are you using for rock and substrate?   I think stopping, and starting over on this problem is the best advise I can give. Blundell >>

- Low pH Problems, Follow-up - TANK SET-UP   a.. 500lt Tank - 4 holes drilled into back at water level line - runs down to W/D shower head   b.. 1x 2 Sponge power head filter in tank for pushing water   c.. 1x Foam fractionation skimmer   d.. 1x Canister filter - Via Aqua 750 Professional - 3 baskets: Running off W/D sump                                                                         a.. 1x Wet & Dry filter 75cm x 45cm x 45cm Green filter material - white filter material - ? full of Bio-balls 14cm water level in sump   a.. 1x Jun pump 12,000 L/ph   b.. 2x Heaters   c.. Tank substrate - crushed white coral 2mm   d.. 6x 4ft Fluoros - 4x Super Day -2x Actinic Blue LIVE STOCK   a.. 1x Mandarin Dragonet   b.. 2x Tomato Clown Fish (1 male, 1 female)   c.. 1x Banded Boxing Shrimp (female)   d.. 1x Abalone   e.. 1x Medusa worm   f.. 1x Host Anemone   g.. 20x Actinodiscus/Discosoma   h.. 3x Ricordeidae   I.. 5x Warty Corallimorphs   j.. 3x Folded Elephant Ears   k.. 12x Colonial Anemone   l.. 30x Yellow/Green Encrusting Sea Anemones   m.. 1x Violet Sea Urchin   n.. 3x Sea Squirts   o.. 4x Xenia - Encrusting Corals   p.. 1x Goniopora - Planulata   q.. 1x Large Plate Coral   r.. 1x Small Plate Coral   s.. 20x Finger - Torch Corals   t.. 3x Star - Pineapple Corals   u.. 2x Common Sponges   v.. 8x Tree Soft Corals   w.. 3x Branching Hydroids   x.. 2x Grape Caulerpa   y.. 1x Free Living Bristleworm   z.. Colony of Sea Mats   aa.. A meadow of Xenia type blue single flowers   ab.. 10kg Premium Live rock covered in Coralline Algae Thanks Chris <Chris, it seems to me that you don't have enough substrate in there or calcium-based rock which would provide a natural buffer to your tank. You really need about 60 kg of live rock in a tank of this size. Given the amount of life you have in this tank, you'll need to add buffers to keep the pH up at the very least and/or add more substrate and live rock. Cheers, J -- > Reef Water Chemistry - pH and Ca high 8/1/04 Hi--I have a 175gal tank with about 350lbs live rock. <as an aside... seeing that you have a nice beefy supply of live rock here (very fine at 2 lbs per gallon), I wonder if you have the rockscape built so that no pieces are touching the vertical walls? If so, its a common mistake and one that significantly impedes water flow around and through the reef. It causes problems in time as detritus accumulates in inaccessible places. Do consider if this is a problem> Have not successfully been able to keep coral yet--they do not like my water, but fish are well. My question is about a high pH reading (8.8 tonight--has been around 8.2 - 8.4) and a high Ca reading 480ppm. <pH is likely a non-issue... ideally it should be 8.4-8.6. The Calcium is getting scary high though. I suspect too that because of it, your alkalinity is flat or low (under 10dKH). Regardless... it is this way because the source water is mineral rich, or you have misdosed (excess or imbalanced) supplements. Please do look into our archives for the article called "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity" and follow the related links on the page> Ammonia, Nitrates and    Nitrites are all 0. <you will want to allow a small amount of nitrates (5-10 ppm) to linger in the future for optimal coral health and color> Our alkalinity kit hasn't arrived yet, so don't know about that. We are doing the Kent Marine Tech CB (part A&B). Do you know what could have caused the pH spike? <if you do not shake the 2-part supplements vigorously before every use, they can be dosed imbalanced. Or... if your chemistry was not balanced before you started using the 2-part supplement, then the imbalance was simply carried along (the 2-part mixes cannot magically correct and imbalance... they ARE balanced and need to be finessed relative to your chemistry and what your tanks daily demands are)> I skipped adding the CB solution today because Ca is so high. <very good> Is this harmful? <necessary> What other tests do you recommend? I also tested for Copper and that was at 0. Thanks! Janet <do get a good reef book on hand my friend. It will be money much better spent rather than killing another coral. Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals is excellent for livestock/pictures... and if I may say so, my Book of Coral Propagation has a very easy to understand section (most of the first half of the book -450 pages) on Reef Husbandry, water quality, etc. Best regards, Anthony Calfo> - Low pH Problems - Hello WWMCrew, I have had a continual pH. problem, I am always having to add pH 8.3 to get my pH. up from 8.0 to 8.3 . My carbonate hardness is at 240ppm and I do add carbonate hardness generator when needed. over the last week I have used 200g of p.h.8.3 at 30g a dose in a 500lt tank. Yesterday I took the cotton material out of the canister filter, it was filthy, I did not put any back into the canister filter . Would all the filth in the canister filter have any thing to do with the continual pH. ups and downs. <Probably has something to do with it, but there are probably other factors as well. How much rock and gravel/sand do you have in the tank? This would help create some natural buffers.> thanks Chris <Cheers, J -- >

How do I keep my pH up part 2?   8/2/04 Thanks for the response. I've got a 3.5" aragonite DSB. I've got about 130lbs of live rock in the tank.  I think my calcium levels are so high now (don't have any corals yet, just live rock) that the Kalk powder instantly turns into a snowstorm look if I add a decent size at any one time now.  << Well then I wouldn't add any.  If you don't have corals, you really don't need to add calcium, nor buffer.   Like Bob says, if you are going to add something, you better be testing for it. >> However, the slow drip from reactor via LiterMeter doesn't seem to be a problem. Thanks for the help. I've never had this much trouble with pH before.  << I hope it all works out for you.  Remember, water changes do wonders!  Blundell  >>

- Low pH, High Alk, Follow-up - <Hello, JasonC here this time.> Adam please you answered my question just days ago so to follow up when I do water changes I clean the substrate which is weekly generally but the last few times it has been especially clean more so than usual which I'm putting down to hermit crabs, small starfish, etc doing a fantastic job and also my bacteria coping wonderfully with the biological load could this fact be an indication of the low ph problem? <Not likely... it is the presence of such excess detritus that brings down the pH - efficient reduction of such wastes would lead to high nitrates, not a drop in pH.> Is all the poo, excess food and algae being eaten what is lowering my pH, if so should I remove some hermits or starfish or what? <I'd be looking in other places.> I only clean the canister filter every three months and it doesn't get very dirty should I clean it more often anyway? <I'd clean the canister at the least every week.> I have a wrasse of some description about 2 inches long fairly young self collected which hides under the substrate all the time like I mean it never comes out unless I scare it out (could be coming out while lights off I suppose) have had these fish before my early tank disaster and I recall they only used to come out for an hour a day at lunch and never saw them eat either. How long would it take a fish to starve to death? <A couple of weeks.> It doesn't look thin at all and it has been two weeks now (had the others longer than that and they never looked thin either) so I'm thinking he is eating something, either detritus on bottom or in substrate or algae at night are the only options. <How about small crustaceans like amphipods and copepods?> Any ideas about this fish's strange behaviour or if it is related to my ph problem? <Well... without knowing exactly what type of wrasse it is, it's hard to say specifically, but if it hides in the substrate, it is likely just wary of predation and feels more comfortable this way.> Now with the co2 idea does this mean I should aerate the water like get airstones for the water or another power head for water movement or do I need a protein skimmer along with removing covers to tank (only problem is I risk fish jumping out have two confirmed jumpers in the tank and kiddies putting fingers and god knows what else in there) or what? <A cover on the tank is always a good idea, although it doesn't have to be glass, it can be eggcrate or similar material that allows gas exchange but keeps the jumpers in the tank and little people's fingers out. The skimmer likewise is always a good idea and I personally can't imagine running a marine tank without one.> Does the co2 just make the ph look lower or is it actually lower by this I mean am I raising ph higher than it is reading is the ph even an issue or will sorting out the co2 problem fix the ph readings? <I'm guessing Adam was referring to CO2 accumulation in the home - this would actually lower the pH of the tank, and your readings would be accurate.> Bit confused about co2 and ph relationship. <CO2, when mixed with water creates a weak acid - carbonic acid, and this would lower your pH. Modern homes, by virtue of their high R-vales - Tyvek wrapping, insulation, and double-pane windows tend to have issues with fresh air - they hold air in the house, and this air becomes CO2 laden over time by virtue of the exhaled breath of the humans living there. Best way to address is to open some windows.> I have tested ph over a day and night and it seems to remain constant 7.9/8.0 when tested every two hours during the day and every four at night so this has nothing to do with it. Neither ph up nor KH up have ingredients on them so don't know if borate is an issue. So in summary ph can be 8.3 at beginning of week after all weekly maintenance, over the week it will drop gradually to 7.9 by end of week and when I do water change etc it goes up but not quite enough so I add 1 or 2 ph buffer tablets and it drops over the week till next maintenance. <Sounds like you should be adding something during the week, in between maintenance periods.> Should I keep doing this or is the drop over the week a problem hasn't seemed to bother the fish so far. <It will in time increase stress which will lead to other problems.> Also to remind you my source water has ph 8.3/8.4 and top up water is 8.0. Should I look at doing larger water changes to get pH up naturally without adding chemicals each week or am I most likely looking at a co2 problem and if so why would this be occurring in my tank. <All of the above.> I have no great algae problem only one live rock if that makes a difference. Look forward to any further advice/ideas you might have. Regards Nicole. <Well... if your home fits the above description, start by opening some windows. If this has no effect, then I would most certainly try to address this in your source, make-up, and top-off water - keeping all inputs in the ideal range, and then at the high end around 8.4. Cheers, J -- > Huge pH drop Hi Bob, <Sue-Ellen> Sorry about all the capital letters. <Happens. Thank you for re-keying, re-sending> I'm having a terrible problem trying to maintain a stable ph in my tank. The tank is 450 ltrs, with that I run 2 skimmers and two filters, I have gone overkill on the equipment, to my way of thinking that is better than under doing it. I have mainly moray eels in this tank, with the exception of a trigger, grouper and lion fish. <Ahh, big fish, lots of food, wastes... a tendency for the system to go reductive, with consequent loss of alkaline reserve, drop in pH...> There is a lot of feeding being done, due to the 6 morays. <Wowzah! Will you be getting a larger, much bigger system in the near future? I hope so> I water change weekly, 100 litres. I have 2 large powerheads to give me some sort of aeration. The eels can cope with the ph at 7.7-7.8 but just very concerned about the others, also have a lot of corals etc.. <You must have to "fit them in edge-wise!"> Does the bicarb-soda trick work? <Yes... to an extent... you can, should pre-dissolve the "baking soda" in a bit of water, add some in an area of rapid water movement... daily if necessary... but, you know your long term solution only resides in adding many gallons to your overall system volume. Either a much larger tank, and/or the addition/tying in of a BIG sump> would be very grateful for any help, as I don't want to lose any of these fish. Regards Sue-Ellen <Start measuring the space thereabouts, planning, scheming of how to get more water, or trade in some of your animals. In a word, your real problem is "Over-crowding" (okay, two words and a hyphen)... and solution, "under-". Bob Fenner>

Re: huge pH drop (part 2) hi bob <Sue-Ellen> was talking to  you yesterday about the unstable ph in my tank, I am going to try the baking soda trick for a couple of days and see what happens. <This technique is very safe... baking soda/sodium bicarbonate will not raise marine water pH too much or too fast, almost regardless of how much you add> One other question, I've read that ammonia etc. is very toxic with a raised ph, should I actually raise the ph to the normal level or not! <If you have appreciable ammonia present (let's say half a part per million) I might be concerned... Very likely not an issue. Bob Fenner> regards sue-Ellen

Is Low pH my problem? hello, I have been doing maintenance on aquariums for a job for about 10 years, my problem is a client has a 25 gallon hex salt water aquarium. I took it over about 8 months ago, and have had animals die more often than not. I have replaced the Fluval filter, coral sand, water, its conditions run almost perfect. ph 7.8, nitrite 20, nitrate 0, ammonia. 0. and so on . << A pH of 7.8 seems very low to me.  I would do a massive water change. >> I have reduced the tank to damsels only (5) and now they die within 16 hours. any suggestions ? << Yes, first your description of the tank leaves out all the information regarding natural filtration.  How much live rock, live sand, corals, lighting, etc?  Adding those items can make a huge difference. >> le Roy hicks advanced aquascaping <<  Blundell  >>

pH Problems After Moving (7/22/04) I moved my tank on Saturday, overall things went better than expected. <Glad to hear.> I am having one problem that I cannot figure out at all, it is worrying me.  I have never been able to keep my PH where I want it, it is always at about 7.9 in the AM and rises to 8.15 by evening. <This really isn't a bad fluctuation range. Most tanks go down a bit at night. Many people stabilize this by growing algae in a refugium lit at night.> I dose 1/4 tsp of Kalk in a slurry in the AM, and 20 ml each of Bionic (B-Ionic two-part?> when I get home (the normal bionic, not the one that does not raise ph). Since I have moved, I cannot keep my PH up no matter what I do. <How long ago did you move it? How low does it go? 7.9 is not outside the acceptable range for a FOWLR, although a reef is generally healthier at 8.2-8.4. There is no need for rash or rushed actions here.> I am guessing it has to do with some organics released from the sand bed breaking down making acid. <Possibly, which will resolve in time with skimming, chemical filtration and frequent water changes.> When I dose 1/4 tsp of Kalk normally, my PH jumps about .15, and stays up for a while slowly dropping for a few hours.  Yesterday I did five 1/4 tsp doses, and every time I checked the PH it was under 8.0, even after the lights were on for 7 hours (shorter than normal).  I also dosed a little Seachem reef buffer hoping that would bring it up.  It did... for about an hour.  This morning the pH was back at 7.75 (yikes!). <Getting a bit low there, but again, avoid rapid, large changes in pH, you would not want to suddenly bring it up to 8.4 or something.> I keep dosing Kalk as much as possible to try to neutralize the acids... <Remove them with water changes.> but I can't be home all the time to do this...  Is there something I can do to get things right again?  I changed about 40% of the water out with aerated, buffered new salt water (RO/DI). <Good. Regular, modest changes should help.> I also added 100 lbs of Southdown and put my old sand on top to seed it.  With all that fine aragonite I just added I figured the PH would go up after the move. <It still takes time to work.> The tank is a 55 gallon, old sand (1 tear old) was 2 inches of carob sea special grade reef sand, ~50 lb of live rock, 15 or so coral frags, Derasa clam, 2 Percula clowns, coral beauty, Cardinalfish.  I run a Remora Pro modified to work in-sump, 20+ x turnover from a lifeguard 3000 return pump and SEIO 620 powerhead.  PH readings are on a pinpoint meter. I questioned the readings, so I recalibrated the meter yesterday and double checked with a Seachem ph test kit. <I think there is no need to panic here. These are not dangerously low pH levels. It is wide fluctuations that pose the greatest risk. Most likely your tank needs to stabilize over time. Do read the pH & alkalinity articles and FAQs for reassurance and ideas. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Low pH high Alk 7/23/04 Hi guys this has got me stumped been trying to sort out for months and cant seem to resolve. My pH always seems to be too low. Initially (tank is about 4 or 5 months old) didn't monitor correctly and let pH drop then raised it too quickly and killed many unfortunately. One month later I was still regularly monitoring pH and it wont stay at 8.0-8.3 every few days when tested it is back down to 7.9-8.0 or so, so I add a little more pH up and three days later same thing. This has been going on for at least two months or more. I use natural sea water that has pH of 8.3 when aged two weeks this pH is maintained. The alkalinity in my tank is 11.76dkh which I believe is on the high end so my pH shouldn't be able to get so low should it, shouldn't this alkalinity buffer it from dropping?  <Your Alkalinity is on the high end of normal, which is fine.  Low pH and normal or high alkalinity almost always points toward CO2 accumulation.  Take a cupful of water from your tank and measure the pH.  Take the rest of the cup outdoors and aerate it with an air stone for at least several minutes and re-test the pH.  If there is a significant rise in pH after aeration, you are accumulating CO2.> On first test it was 10dkh so I added some KH up and it rose nicely but pH remains a problem. <Using products like "pH up" and "KH up" can be problematic.  Be sure that these products are not high in borate.  Borate is an important buffer in sea water, but since most test kits actually measure total alkalinity, excess borate can give you a falsely high dKH or carbonate alkalinity reading.  I am very strongly in favor of using products that tell you what they contain.> The fresh water I use to top up is rainwater with a pH of 8.0 and its only a bit so I don't see how this could be the problem. I do regular 1/3 water changes of my 40G system weekly occasionally fortnightly. <Wow!  With such a good water change routine, It is hard to imagine that you are having a borate accumulation problem.  I would consider rainwater a bit risky considering airborne pollution, etc.> Have an under gravel filter with power head and Fluval 403 canister filter. Have read under gravel can trap co2 could this be my problem? Substrate is shell grit 1.5inches with an area of aragonite sand of same depth for wrasse to sleep/hide in. Fish and inverts are fine even new ones added recently are cool. <Mechanical filters can tend to drag down pH both through CO2 production and through organic acids produced during the breakdown of wastes.  This is one of the major reasons they have fallen out of favor for marine aquarium use.  Please do be sure that the gravel bed and canister media are cleaned often (once a week at least) and generally well maintained.> Only other thing I haven't done is measure for fluctuations over a day I usually take readings at midday-ish anywhere from 10.00am-2.00pm after lights have been on for at least two hours. Lighting is one fluorescent or actinic globe, haven't got a double frame yet so alternate days on each globe. Have lids on all the time to limit evaporation could this be part of a co2 problem? Or would adding another power head or air stone help? What do ya reckon???????? Help solve my mystery! <Large fluctuations in pH from just before the lights go on to just before they go off is another clue that would point toward CO2 accumulation.  The fact that you are running the tank covered is another.  Protein skimmers are highly recommended for may reasons, with proper gas exchange being one of them.  Removing the tops would allow better gas exchange and allowing more evaporation would allow you to use Kalkwasser for your calcium and alkalinity supplementation, and Kalk will definitely help raise your pH.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Summer pH Problem? Hi all, <Hey there! Scott F. here today!> I have a 55g tank, with a fine 4" DSB, Remora skimmer, and 75lbs of LR,260 watts of PC lighting (bulbs 2months old), 2 Maxijet 1200's for circulation.  The tank is 1 1/2 years old and things have been going pretty well, for the most part.  I have noticed 2 corals that have closed up and have been like this well over 6 weeks (Pagoda, Leather, Mushroom).  I have done large water changes and still no effect on the corals.  After reading around, it seems this maybe related to the summer months and depressed pH,  I think I had some trouble last year as well. <Interesting> Anyway, after testing, I do in fact have low pH, no matter what I do with buffering, the PH will not go up.  My RO/DI water is PH 8.2 after aeration.  I am assuming I have a CO2 problem, since aeration makes the pH go up and the room is pretty closed off.  What would be the best way to add oxygen into my tank?  I really can't leave a window open all the time.  Would running a air stone into the skimmer with outside air work? Would an additional power filter help (with bio wheel)? <I'd go for some vigorous aeration in the tank itself. That seems to be the most simple way to solve the immediate problem. Other thoughts should be to look into the long-term issue. Can you increase filtration? Is the bioload of the system too heavy? Can you run system with the top of the aquarium open for a while? Look for possible causes of this drop that may be easier to correct than you think> I took out the trickle filter almost a year ago, maybe it would provide extra aeration. <Well, it would provide higher levels of oxygen> Thanks for any suggestions. Brian <My pleasure, Brian. Best of luck in getting to the bottom of this unusual problem. Regards, Scott F.> Perplexing pH Problem Gentlemen,   <and ladies too... our crew is blessed finally with representation from the fairer sex) As always, I'm most appreciative for your help. <always welcome> The mystery deepens... I'm still unable to clearly identify the source of my low PH problem.  Last week I purchased a Pinpoint II dissolved oxygen meter, (and after proper calibration according to the instructions,) to my surprise I discovered  my D.O. . . . . level to be consistently at 7.5-7.6ppm, depending on how far down inside the tank I placed the probe.  What gives?  I thought that 100% oxygen saturation was at 6.9ppm?   <hmm... two issues here. To the latter question, it is variable and certainly can be much higher than the saturation point on parts of the reef (crest, i.e.) but is not likely to every come anywhere near that. And two, some hobby grade oxygen meters including pinpoint have quite a reputation according to some aquarists. I personally prefer reagent test kits for testing O2> I have read that "supersaturation" can exist with vigorous aeration and circulation, which I have.   <please don't overestimate this... few tanks truly do> I have used Kalkwasser to raise the PH, but it quickly falls back into the 7.93-7.96 range.  Yesterday I raised the PH via the addition of Kalk from 7.94 to 8.18.  Within 10 hours the PH had fallen back down to 7.93.  This same scenario plays out with the use of buffers to raise PH.  Is there anything else I can try? Richard    <if this was/is simply a water chemistry problem, then water changes should/will correct it (assuming the raw water used is properly buffered and aerated and the final new seawater is confirmed as "good" re: pH/Alk. But if the problem is (home) atmospheric, hardware (calc reactor mistuned) or from improper supplementation (misdosing), then you will be back to square one. In the context of e-mail, after several exchanges, I'm not sure what more we can say/do. Have you tried reading the archives at the chemistry forum on Reef Central? Very informative too. Randy-Holmes Farley is the "chemist on duty"... a wonderful chap and quite sharp on these matters. Best of luck>


Low pH pt. deux Gentlemen,   As always, I'm most appreciative for your help. The mystery deepens... I'm still unable to clearly identify the source of my low PH problem.  Last week I purchased a Pinpoint II dissolved oxygen meter, (and after proper calibration according to the instructions,) to my surprise I discovered  my D.O. . level to be consistently at 7.5-7.6ppm, depending on how far down inside the tank I placed the probe.  What gives?  I thought that 100% oxygen saturation was at 6.9ppm?  I have read that "supersaturation" can exist with vigorous aeration and circulation, which I have.  I have used Kalkwasser to raise the PH, but it quickly falls back into the 7.93-7.96 range.  Yesterday I raised the PH via the addition of Kalk from 7.94 to 8.18.  Within 10 hours the PH had fallen back down to 7.93.  This same scenario plays out with the use of buffers to raise PH.  Is there anything else I can try? << Water motion.  I think most pH problems can be fixed by two things.  A large water change, and increased water motion (especially along the surface).  Try that and see what results you get. >> Richard         <<  Blundell  >>

- A Couple of Questions - I have a pH buffer that I try and use, but when I use too much of it (i.e. enough to counteract my problem) my snails go crazy and other creatures are not happy either. <Indeed, wild fluctuations in any parameter, temperature, pH, etc. is bad for the animals in your care.> I am NOT using a KH buffer because they tend to increase carbonate alkalinity. <Makes sense.> My problem is that it's too high as it is which is keeping any pH treatments I have from working. <"it's too high" - what is "it"?> Any suggestions on the dirt/dust/brown film on top of the water as well? <Increase circulation, increase the frequency of your water changes, perhaps get a surface skimmer for your filtration unit.> ~Frank <Cheers, J -- > False Ph readings Hi thanks a lot for answering all my questions. I currently have a 55 gallon saltwater with a Scopas tang, a pixy Hawkfish false Percula and a orange lined Chromis. My pH. right now is about 9.3 all the fish are fine and there is no stress showing. I was wondering how to bring the PH. down? thanks a lot <Honestly Sharon I believe you are getting a false reading. With a ph that high your fish would be showing terrible distress. I would do a partial water change just to be sure but I would also take a sample of water to your pet store for confirmation. I think your test kit has gone buggy. MacL>

Re: Alkalinity and pH Wow thanks, I think I do actually understand (a little anyway).  Only one thing that you said still confuses me: <Go ahead> >We now take our buffered solution of H+, OH-, Na+, and HCO3 ions, at whatever pH conditions exist and add some of the HCl. >I assume that now since the solution is buffered, the H+ ions that would have been free to decrease the pH bind with something.  What does it bind with?  The HCO3? >><Nope, the sodium...> >Forming what? >><NaCl and water> OK, so we add HCl to pure water that has been buffered with sodium bicarbonate and we now have a solution of H+, OH-, Na+ and HCO3- ions all floating around. Add H+ and Cl- (hydrochloric acid) and the you get table salt (NaCl) and water (HOH).  The salt stays in solution and could precipitate out if the solution reaches saturation.  (I guess if there are other ions available to bond with, you couldn't really call it sodium chloride until precipitation occurs and you see what salts you get). <Actually... the ionically bonded sodium chloride is such... in solution, aqueous in this case> Breakthrough must be getting closer now.  Anyway in water, most of the water stays as HOH while a little of it disassociates (?) into H+ and OH- ions?  That's why it's called a polar solvent?   <Bingo> So alkalinity doesn't necessarily provide something for the excess (pH reducing) ions to react with, it causes the excess H+ to bond with the OH- ions forming water. <Mmm, both... it depends on your perspective, or what you are trying to "make"> Although I suppose that if things really got extreme, you could get H+ precipitating out in solid compounds (salt?). What is the HOH portion specifically called?  Whole water? <dihydrogen per oxide?> I hope I can remember that and get back to setting up the tank. Thanks again! Paul J. Niebergall, P.E. <Me too! Paul, please send along our previous correspondence... don't know what happened this AM, but it's "gone", and would like to post it ahead of this one. Bob Fenner>

How to get the pH down? and others hello WWM crew, This is Tiffany again. I'm not sure if you received my last two e mails so I am going to try this again. I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank that I am trying to set up. I filled it with spring water and 1 tablespoon of stress zyme, and I am letting the tank cycle. I think. < You need to add a fish to get the "good nitrifying bacteria" culture started.> I bought a tester kit and I've been checking the water quality daily. My Nitrates have remained under 10ppm < In many agricultural areas in the country the nitrates in well water may be as high as 50 ppm in extreme cases>, my nitrites are 0ppm, total hardness is 120ppm. The buffering capacity has gone down to less than  80ppm and my pH is 8.4! I know that's high, but I do not know what to do to remedy the problem. when I searched your website I found ways to raise the pH, but not lower it. Also, I did not see a "peak" with the nitrates and nitrites. < No fish, no ammonia, no nitrites, no peaks> Is that ok? should I be doing water changes daily? Should I be testing the ammonia levels too? I know that I am ignorant and these questions may seem trivial, I just can't get all of this start-up stuff straight. I have been putting in tiny amounts of flakes every three days. The water has remained clear, but I've noticed a slight smell. < Go to Marineland.com and look at Dr. Tim's library. There is an article titled the first thirty days that explains how to break in a new tank and what is going on. I think this will help you a lot.> I also have a question about shells. The last time I started the tank I was unaware of nitrates and all of that stuff. I had put into the tank some shells that I found at the beach. After doing some reading on your website I am getting the feeling that I shouldn't have done that. I only rinsed the shells I did not boil them. Could that have led to the downfall of my fishies? < When you add anything to an aquarium you run the risk of introducing all kinds of things that can be harmful to your fish. Shells may have creatures living in them that may be directly parasitic to your fish. If the creatures are still in there then they could die and rot . This will raise the ammonia levels and create all kinds of problems. The shells are made of calcium carbonate and will break down in an aquarium and raise the pH.> One more question and I am done I promise, if I were to have a male Betta in the tank your site suggests smaller gourami's as suitable tankmates, how many red flame honey gourami's would you suggest putting in a 10 gallon tank with a male Betta? <Gouramis are not to aggressive and are not really that active so you could put a few in there with a male Betta. I would have lots of floating plants because they all appreciate the cover. Look at some of the other dwarf Gouramis colors to mix things up a bit.-Chuck>Ok that's it. Thank you very much for all of your help. I love your website! It's really helpful for the ignorant aquarium enthusiast like me. Tiffany

- pH & Alkalinity Problems - Hi Anthony / Bob or whoever is on call today. <JasonC here at your service.> I pretty much live on your web site and really value all the pointers - I need some advise -- I have a 220 Gal Reef tank with tons of live rock and a great growth of coralline algae all around the tank. All the parameters are fine except for the PH and Alk. Nitrate < 2; Ammonia 0; Nitrite 0. I drip buffer into the tank during the day and Kalk at night to replace the water that evaporates during the day due to almost 675W of MH light and 200W of power compact (blue). My PH is driving me crazy - At night the PH in the tank is around 8.55 and during the day it is around 8.7. No matter what I do - water changes (which I try to do about 5 - 10% every other week), PH reducers etc. <For starters, I'd stop dripping the buffers and Kalkwasser and add them in single, measured doses... likely both are to blame here.> it hovers around the 8.55 - 8.7 mark. If I stop the buffer or Kalk, the PH goes down to around the 8.5 range during the day and around 8.4 at night, but my Alk tests show almost no alkalinity. <Even if you continue the buffers and discontinue the Kalkwasser?> My calcium is around 380 - 400 ppm. I only use RO/DI water, which I buffer and aerate overnight prior to use in the tank. <How much do you buffer? Are you measuring this before and after you add the salt?> The fish all seem o.k. The Hard Corals however don't seem too happy or healthy - My bubble and pearl corals are not opening as well as they used to - I have had them for about 6 months -- I just now started feeding them some meaty foods (which seems to have helped a bit). My green closed brain (Wellsophyllia sp?) expands a bit -- but no where near where it used to be. I just started feeding it too -- but it seems that it doesn't really open up it's tentacles anymore -- and the food just floats off it after sitting there for 10 - 15 minutes. I also have a green flowerpot coral - which was in poor health from almost the week after I bought it -- I don't know if this is all due to the PH or a lack of physical feeding till about a week ago -- The only corals that seem to be thriving are a brown flowerpot -- that has grown huge - and seems to be o.k. -- and a red brain -- which has grown substantially over the past few months and looks good too. Which reminds me to ask you -- should I feed meaty foods to a flowerpot coral too? <No, these need fine particulates, almost green water.> My clams however are growing like crazy -- they are almost double the size compared to when I bought them a year or so ago. I also have a few mushrooms spread out on the live rock and they too are growing like crazy. Can you think of anything that can help restore the old glory of the tank -- and maybe help lower the PH in the process (if you think the PH parameters I have indicated above are actually an issue)? <Would investigate your buffering and Kalkwasser practices a little more... would advise against the [indiscriminate] drip method to more precise additions.> Thanks for your advise. - A huge fan <Cheers, J -- >

- False Reading on pH Monitor - Hi gang: I've been running a pinpoint pH monitor for the past few months and generally love it... but a couple weeks ago I noticed a strong upward trend in my pH readings. The readings got to the 'YIKES' range... and I was trying to sort things out when I noticed an extremely tiny 'Lo Bat' message in the upper left corner. A slapped in a new 9 volt battery... and found my pH in the usual range, fortunately before attempting a massive/drastic fix. So I figured I'd offer my experience to others as something to watch out for... <Indeed, and thanks for sharing. Would also add to your list of things to check, to remove the probe from the tank from time to time and allow to rinse in some fresh water, distilled or RO/DI to allow the probe to live a little longer.> Maybe they should've arranged for the pH reading to 'flash' or for the gizmo to just stop working once power drops below where it needs to be... <I'm sure it would have stopped working soon enough. No worries - you've sorted it out now. Cheers, J -- > - Protein Skimmer and pH stability - Hello, I've read your website so much that I thought I'd provide some of the insights that I've gathered from my reef back to you.  I recently purchased a pH controller and a calcium reactor.  Well, when I hooked up the controller I noticed that between the end of the day and the next morning the pH would go from 8.24 to 7.98.  Also, the skimmer was not producing dark liquid color skim and when the riser was lowered on the Euroreef, protein skimmer, it would produce hardly any skim at all.  After much reading on your website I decided that the best course of action was to bring the skimmer closer to the surface of the sump.  The protein skimmer was sitting in about 8 inches of water so I bought some mouse pads at office max to place under the skimmer.  I raised the skimmer up about an inch, which placed the intake of the pump within an inch of the water surface.  I then reduced the length of the riser until the skim was a dark green color.  To my amazement once the skimmer was more properly tuned the pH fluctuations disappeared. <Interesting.> This morning the pH was 8.15.  Maybe this condensed information will prove helpful for another enthusiast. <Let us hope so.> -Brent <Cheers, J -- >

Re: Perplexing pH Problem II 6/9/04 Thank You for your quick response to my question. <always welcome> The substrate is 3 1/2 inches of Aragonite 2-3mm grain size and some oolitic aragonite as well.   <FWIW... this is a challenging mix, not deep enough for adequate NNR, and not fine enough either IMO. As such, you will need to have stronger water flow and better nutrient export than most. You will also need to stir this sand bed more than a deeper/finer bed (under 1mm grain sizes)> I have 20 pounds of rock in the tank, most of it is premium Fiji, the rest is Tufa.  It's been in the tank for about 30 to 45 days.  In connection with normal evaporation, the pH is now measuring 7.95. On the suggestion of a fellow aquarist, I aerated .5 gallons of tank water in a bucket outside for 24 hours, and found that the PH had risen to 8.08. It was then suggested to me that I have a CO2 problem in my house.   <slight, yes... indeed> Even though keeping the windows open is impractical, I tried it for 48 hours, and this had no effect.   <this was because you needed to have a clear path of airflow in the house... open window, open door and a path leading to another vent in the house (gable/attic or another window/door)... to get a cross draft as it were to ventilate the home> I have purchased a small fan, and am contemplating mounting it to the ceiling, and aiming the airflow over the tank... Do you think that this will make a difference?   <none whatsoever> Is there any product that I can use to raise and maintain PH without increasing alkalinity? Richard <daily use of calcium hydroxide (Kalkwasser) can be a huge help here my friend. Else, read through our archives here at wetwebmedia.com for FAQs on this topic of Ph and ventilation. Much has been writ. Anthony>

Perplexing pH Problem III 6/10/04 Anthony & Crew, <howdy> Thank you as always for your help. I have a number of additional questions for you... (and an observation or two...) To my surprise, I found that the vents in the basement (where the tank is located) were closed.  These have been opened, along with the windows.  I have also opened the door leading to the basement.   Despite these measures, there has been little effect on PH at this time.   <it is a complex dynamic that has been explained at length by a heating and cooling expert (Ralph Gibson) in our archives. It really is not as simple as opening a window, but rather creating a path for air to flow and forcing that path if needed to reckon the differential between ambient indoor and outdoor  atmospheres> This leads me to a series of questions.... As you requested, I will read the FAQ's regarding the use of Kalkwasser.  I have no experience using that product, as I have a FOWLR setup, and don't have a great need for calcium.  Will regular dosing with Kalkwasser cause it to precipitate out like  overdosing with alkalinity supplements? <yes... this is possible> (I learned that lesson the hard way).  Is there a downside? <hmmm... if your demand for Ca is so low in the tank that the Kalkwasser risks a precip, then your problem with pH is so slight that normal weekly water changes should be able to easily maintain your pH... unless your source water is not properly buffered/filtered and is the root problem (acidic or flat)> As stated earlier, I have a fluidized bed filter (A previously owned, Rainbow Lifegard FB 600, probably overkill on a 45G tank) In doing additional research, I have found several articles which state that the return water from a Fluidized Bed Filter is oxygen poor, Is this true? <yes... can be. But easy enough to test with an Oxygen test kit. Tetra makes a friendly one> (and therefore can contribute to a low PH?)   <mildly if so> If so, it leads me to believe that I should ditch the FB 600 in favor of perhaps a Penguin BIOWHEEL setup, or some other setup which oxygenates the water before returning it to the tank. <definitely not the solution> Am I way off base here?   <I think so> Do you think that this strategy is sound or flawed?  Would I benefit with an increased PH by doing this? <better to establish that your source water is good and alkaline and then simple use regular water changes to support pH and add Kalk if necessary> Or, is it possible that given the length of time the Live Rock and Sand have been in the tank, that they are now capable of accepting the bioload without using the Fluidized Bed, or a BioWheel for that matter?   <quite possible> Could I stop using the FB 600 "Cold Turkey" without significant risk of a major tank cycle? <not recommended> (Given adequate water flow around the rock). Does salinity have any effect on PH? <nope> Thank You  Richard <when in doubt, do a water change :) "Dilution is the Solution to Pollution." Anthony>

- pH Fluctuation - Hi tank has been running for one month since zero nitrates established so close to three months in total. Had happy fish then everything went bad. Had no lids on and evaporation caused spec grav levels to rise over time to 1.029 (bad me for letting it get this way) anyway dumbo here added 15L of rain water untreated in any way and the next day added new fish which died very quickly so started testing and realized pH 7.5 (not good) so now dumbo adds kH-up which I later find out adjusts hardness not pH. Long story short everything bar two damsels died over 24 hours all inverts everything oh my anemones, coral and some Nudibranchs lived also. So now am becoming educated but is all very confusing. Have proper pH adjuster and am fixing this problem slowly. As far as spec grav goes am adding rainwater 5L per day which I am adjusting the pH of to around 8.1ish (colour charts on pH test kit are hard to read accurately any suggestions here?) is this the right thing to do? <Well... the rainwater may be acidic, and not your best choice for top-off source. Do test the pH and alkalinity of that water before adding and make certain you're not doing yourself in by using this water.> And how is the hardness related to spec grav and salinity, should I do anything about this? <Again, testing the source water thoroughly will give you a better idea of how you might supplement it before adding salts.> Should I get new live rock and ditch the old? <I don't think so, if you've had the rock for a while - say a year or more, you might swap some out, but is not a big deal.> Last question I have ready access to good fresh sea water where we net our fish from locally would I be better of just doing large water changes daily until everything is normal again or will this harm last two living fish who have adapted to current situation? <Please read here before using natural seawater: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm > PS The recent pH adjusting has got them hiding and gasping at surface again,  but new inverts are dying again so need to change it. <Yes... please try to make your pH changes gradually - making big/quick changes is trouble - should only move one tenth of a point [0.1] per day.> HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dumbo. <Cheers, J -- >

- Stop Dragging My pH Down - Hello Crew! I'm very discouraged with my current PH problem.  I have read the many FAQ's regarding PH stability, and frankly, I don't know what I'm doing wrong... but I'm quite sure that  it's my fault.   I sure hope you can help... I have a 45 Gallon (High) FOWLR tank.  My PH currently fluctuates in the 7.8-7.9 range.  All of my various attempts to raise the PH to 8.2 have failed. Alkalinity doesn't seem to be the problem.  It is currently at 4.5 Meq/l.  I test alkalinity every few days with a SeaTest kit, and it never seems to fluctuate beyond 4.0 to 5.0 meq/l.  With that level of Alkalinity, I'm afraid to add any buffer, for fear that more will precipitate out into the aquarium as chalk. I can't image that aeration and circulation (and by extension dissolved oxygen/carbon dioxide) are the source of the problem either... I have a total of 4 powerheads,  (Two Marineland Penguin 1140's providing surface agitation, and two Hagen Aquaclear 301's for circulation).   For PH testing I have two properly calibrated Hanna Instruments PHEP 5 PH meters, and a SeaTest PH Test kit which generally backs up the meters results.  I calibrate the meters with one-time-use packets of PH 7.000 and PH 10.000. To test if excess carbon dioxide/(too little dissolved oxygen) is the problem,  I have taken out a half-gallon of water from the tank and poured it into a plastic bucket, and aerated it heavily for 24 hours with a Hagen AquaClear 301powerhead.  The resulting PH is the same at 7.9 I have used both Instant Ocean and Reef Crystals which both mix up to PH 7.90-7.94 in DI water.  They mix to the same PH level in regular tap water. What am I missing?  What am I doing wrong? <Not sure that you are doing anything wrong - perhaps try buffering your RO/DI water before adding the salt. See what pH that comes out as. I don't see any mention of substrate type or the presence of live rock - both of these would help in the natural buffering of your tank... how much do you have? How old is it?> I don't know what else to try to raise the PH up.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Richard <Cheers, J -- > 45G High FOWLR Tank 20LBS Fiji Live Rock 3.5 inch DSB 2 Penguin 1140 powerheads 2 Hagen Aquaclear 301 powerheads 1 Proquatics 250W heater Red Sea Prizm Protein Skimmer 2 Magnum 350 Canister filters (one for Chemical Filtration, the other for Mechanical) 1 FB 300 Fluidized Bed Filter Water Parameters: (Measured with a colorimeter for accuracy) Temperature 77.8 PH: 7.88 (measured with a PH meter) Alkalinity 4.5 meq/l Ammonia: 0.09 ppm Nitrite: 0.0 ppm Nitrate-Nitrogen 15.5 ppm (steady) S.G. 1.023 Phosphate: 0.08 ppm Silicate: 0.1 ppm Fish: 1 Yellowtail Blue Damsel 1 Firefish Goby 1 False Percula Clown 1 Canary Deepwater Damsel

Satisfactory pH for a Reef? >I have a 120 gallon reef tank. My pH in the AM (before lights go on) is 7.9 -8.0 and in the afternoon (lights on) my PH is 8.1 >>This is not uncommon. Accumulation of carbon dioxide is one factor in this equation. If you see stress or lack of vigor in your specimens, you may want to consider using a refugium stocked with macroalgae on a reverse timer in order to prevent this shift. >I cannot seem to go above this level. >>I would say your water is well buffered. >Is 8.0 pH satisfactory for a reef tank? >>Absolutely within acceptable ranges. Again, look to your animals for best indication, but I strongly suggest you DON'T mess about with the pH unless you absolutely have to. >If not, how can I get the recommended reading of 8.3-8.4?  >>Mmm.. not sure whom recommends you must get it bumped up to that degree, again, while under 8.0 is "low-ish", it's not out of naturally occurring ranges. >I use KW for my evaporation. I cannot seem to raise the pH above 8.1. My calcium is 430, alkalinity is 10.8. >>Calcium is a tad on the high side, alkalinity seems to be within an acceptable (and well buffered) range. I honestly wouldn't mess about with it if your specimens are doing well. >I do a weekly water change of 6 gal. >>Not knowing what your other parameters are, nor stocking levels, I can't say whether or not this is good. Do you test your source and make-up water *before* it goes into the tank as well? If your system is going to require further "tinkering" with pH using calcium reactors, et al, I will have to defer to another crewmember. However, in my own opinion you have little to worry about in regards to the information you've provided. Marina >Thank you in advance for your time, Cecilia 

-High pH- Hello Crew!!!! <Hello world!> You guys have the best information on marine aquaria I have found by far!! This is the second time I have written this email. The first time it got way too long. <Much thanks for the condensing!> I have a 125 gallon tank. I have 180 lbs of aragonite and 60 lbs of Aragalive extra fine on top of that. I also have 100 lbs of live rock. A fixture with 6 T-5 54 watt bulbs "Half actinic and half 6500k. 2 PC 64 watt 6500 k. I have 2 pumps inside the tank 900 gph and 400 gph. I have a wet/dry sump with no media, a Red Sea Skimmer, Ocean Clear 345 filter with no cartridge and a Lifeguard 75 watt U/V sterilizer that is turned off. The sump has Quiet-one 4400HH pump that puts out about 750gph. I have a gallon of Carbon and a gallon of Purigen in my sump. <Wow, that's a ton of carbon. I wonder if it's pulling out more than you want it to in such large quantities.> Up till now I have been using tap water for everything "top off, Water Changes, Initial setup" I have been using genesis <Never heard of it.>, "I think this stuff may have been out of date, Stress Coat an most recently Prime. My tank has been up for 6 months. It has cycled and the Ammonia = o, Nitrites= 0 Nitrates are now 10ppm. The ph kept acting funny?? <That's when you check your carbonate hardness, it was likely low.> Wanting to go down. I kept treating it with perfect ph, Reef buffer and PH up. But it kept going down. I had a huge diatom bloom and then green algae started to take over then the hair started to grow. <Your tap-water is likely loaded with algae rocket fuels such as phosphate, nitrate, and my favorite: pipe sludge. There's a whole boat load of bad stuff coming in through the pipes, I always recommend starting with water of known purity, like RO, DI or a combination of the two.> That's when the nitrates fell from 40 ppm to 5 ppm. <Wait I thought they were at 10ppm> I love tags so I went and got a Kole tang a Sailfin and a Powder Blue. <Hopefully individually quarantined, especially the difficult to keep Powder Blue. See Bob's recent article in the free Sea Scope available at your LFS.> I thought that this would be a good start to get some beautiful fish and get that algae under control. I also picked up a flame angel and coral beauty. My ph was 8.2-8.3 or so I thought. My fancy electronic meter was miscalibrated and the reason I had to keep adding ph buffer like mad was because after the fish started to die" they looked fine one second and dead the next" I couldn't imagine what was wrong. Then it struck my strange that I kept having to add all of this ph buffer every day. "stupid beginner mistake". I had a ph of 8.9. <Yikes.> I couldn't believe it. I changed 200 gallons of water so far on my 125 gal tank about 10 gallons at a time. The ph has come down as low as 8.6 but still goes up to 8.9 everyday. I sent in a sample to the mail-order place I use and they said everything looked fine except the ph which was 8.8. I live 80 miles from the nearest LFS and don't know what to do to get the ph down. The fish just keep dying off. They never get sick looking just up and die. <First off you need a carbonate hardness test kit (aka alkalinity) to see exactly what's going on here. It is very likely that your source water is very hard and has a high pH, so I would invest in a reverse osmosis unit before going any further. Next, after mixing fresh saltwater with your RO water, check the pH, it should be normal. Keep in mind that it will be very very stressful to your remaining fish to drop the pH fast, so it may be in your best interests to acclimate them to a separate tank of known pH stability where you could medicate them should they get sick from the stresses of your high pH. You would then be free to drastically change the pH with no one to complain. It's going to take much larger water changes than 10g to make a dent in a very high carbonate hardness, so you may need to invest in a few plastic garbage cans for possible big changes. I suppose it would be possible to fix any carbonate hardness issue w/ small doses of vinegar, but it's extremely dangerous to do with any livestock in the tank. I hope this helps, -Kevin> Help!!! Thanks a million, Keith 

Low pH and High Alkalinity 6/2/04 I've been having low pH and high alkalinity problem in my tank. Ph is at 8.1 and Alkalinity is at 5.0 meg/L. <usually a large water change or two will make this more even keeled unless a very high ALK source water is the root cause (easy enough to test and confirm)> Just a month ago the ph was 8.3 and alkalinity was 4.5 meg/L.  I've been adding SeaChem Reef Advantage Calcium and Reef Calcium and Ph dropped to 8.1. So I added one dose of SeaChem's Marine Buffer and Ph stayed at 8.1 and alkalinity went up to 6.0 meq/L. <Yikes! Please be careful to avoid the see-saw effects of such dosing. You may very well need some large water changes here to get your chemistry back on par. Do also read the article we have in the wetwebmedia.com archives called "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity" (do a keyword/phrase search with the google search tool on the home page)> Recently alkalinity came down to 5.0meq/L. Calcium is at 380mg/l, magnesium is at 1500mg/l and strontium is at 7.5 mg/l. Right now my tank is fish only tank but I want to slowly turn it in to reef tank. At first I wanted to get some calcareous algae growing in the tank, so I started on calcium. <precarious and unnaturally high levels of biominerals are not needed for good growth. Stability and consistent levels go much further.> I tried to find same case on your site but it was all High ph and Low alkalinity problems. <the see-saw works both ways <G>> I know that ph of 8.1 is not that big of a problem <actually... it is a problem in the long run for many corals. Some will not tolerate a night time dip much below 8.3... requiring a daytime pH of 8.4-8.6 > but I wanted to know if this kind of trend could mean there is some thing wrong with water chemistry. <yes... skewed slightly from the mis-dosing> Right now there is no sign of ph going lower than 8.1 but since the beginning the ph was always at 8.3. I real would appreciate your insight into this matter. Thanks, -hsk <do check to see that accumulated CO2 in the (well-insulated) home is not depressing your pH. Aerate a glass of tank water in the garage or outside for 6+ hours. If the pH increases over the period, then you have accumulated CO2 in the household atmosphere. Common and discussed at great length in the archives if you are interested. kindly, Anthony>

Baking Soda to Buffer pH (5/28/04) Me again, <Hi me again :), You have Leslie here today. Sorry for the delayed response I was having some pc problems.> sorry have yet another question,<No worries that is what we are here for> but  I've read several times in the Q&A's about using baking soda to increase (buffer) PH for salt water during water changes, but haven't found anywhere how much should be used, is there a rule of thumb on how much per gallon or something? There is no special rule that I am aware of. It depends on the type of water you are using to make your salt water as well as the salt mix. You will just need to experiment a little bit. I believe Bob recommends about 1 tsp per 20g in his book  as a good place to start. > Thanks again, Alfonso <My pleasure, Leslie>

- Dealing with High pH - I don't get it.... My ph is around 8.5 when I measure the alkalinity it's off the charts. They say to add a by the dropper till the water turns from blue to pink, it doesn't do that until I unload about 2 syringes full. <Could be your test is old... reagents have expired.> Reading the chart that would make my alkalinity in meq/L about 11 and the KH value in dKH 28. <I'd invest in a second brand of test to make certain these readings are correct.> can this be right, if so how did that happen (I use a water softener and a RO/DI) <I would do a little self-examination on your practices - are you adding anything to your RO/DI water besides salts? Perhaps this is where the change needs to be made.> Everything says about raising PH and alkalinity but how do you lower the alkalinity if the PH is fine.  The PH from my tap and out of the RO/DI is very high (I have very very very hard water)  The TDS out of the RO/DI is 50-75 and the PH is 8.4 <That is very hard water - you may find yourself changing the DI cartridge a lot... perhaps consider a different source of water, perhaps purified from the store. Your other option is to try and reduce the pH with the addition of small quantities of a weak acid, but this is potentially dangerous to your livestock. Would experiment with large quantities of your RO/DI water and perhaps vinegar in small amounts - do not add wholesale, but in tiny amounts until you can get the pH to drop to say 8.2 - then wait 24 hours and see where the pH is... if still at 8.2, you can pre-treat your water with that amount of vinegar. If the pH of the test water drops more than that over night, you have added to much. Again IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you DO NOT ADD ANY ACIDS DIRECTLY TO YOUR TANK. I can just see it now - someone is going to read this response and do exactly this - please... be very careful. Add too much acid without experimentation and you can rapidly deplete the buffers and drop the pH to the floor, which would be potentially fatal to your livestock. I can't state this enough, please, please run at least five to ten experiments with your source water before you add salt, and then you might want to toss some of that and wait until you have exact amounts. Don't forget to take notes.> The tank is indeed new with only live rock and mushroom and 1 button coral. I have not added fish yet till I think the tank is in good condition. Ammonia Nitrates and Nitrites are all low to zero so the tank is cycled. <Think you may have to wait a little longer until you can resolve the issues with your high alkalinity and pH.> Also, some of the coralline algae is green, it looks likes the pink/purple stuff but its green, is it a bad algae cause my phosphate tests show color. <The green encrusting algae is exactly that and not coralline. I'm sure there is sufficient alkalinity in your system that the coralline will come along in time.> thanks guys, love ya mark <Cheers, J -- >

OK pH? Ich Problems. (5/1/04) Hello, <Howdy. Steve Allen here today. Please capitalize the proper noun "I" in the future so you post will be easier to read.>   I am new to marines and ,of course, need help!! I've had a 33 Gal setup <Kinda small, and therefore can be hard to keep stable.> for about 6 months, but my fish and coral came from a very established and larger tank. SG-1.025, ammonia-0, Calcium-400,but I think my PH may be lower than I realize. I live in a remote area and all that is available to me is the Hagen test kit, where my results are very hard to determine on the color chart. <Indeed, which is why I prefer my electronic meter.> My PH has remained the same color all along and my fish seemed okay. Should I try baking soda? <Not if your pH is in the acceptable range and is stable.>   The major problem I have now is my saddleback clown has ick, or something like it, and I have put him in QT for weeks and I still can't get rid of it. I've tried Organi Cure which supposedly has safe levels of copper?? <No such thing. The only safe level of copper is zero.> It doesn't seem to have hurt my hermit crabs or fish, but I did lose two feather dusters and a cleaner shrimp shortly after the first treatment. <No surprise.> I do small, weekly water changes and the ick will go away but has returned many times. <Because it's in your tank, just waiting to attach to fish.> My hippo tang and red banded goby seem unaffected. <For now> I thought a clown would be more resilient than a tang? Also, I have a few mushrooms, a green brain and xenia corals, that have looked great all along, but recently my xenia has shrunk right up. Probably the copper. <Yup> Does this mean they are dead? <Unlikely to survive.> What should I do to save my tank? <You need to remove all the fish to a hospital tank and treat there. If no active ich, then you can use hyposalinity. If active, then medication. You need to leave the tank fishless for 6-8 weeks. You need to get the copper out of your tank with PolyFilter or other copper-removing filtration. Search and read on WWM for treatment of ich and removal of copper.> Thank you! Melissa, PEI <Hope this helps.>

Plummeting pH! DATE          ALK               PH                   CA             SALINITY       3/15               8.9               8.2                  280              1.023 3/16               8.3               7.5                  280              1.022 3/17               7.8               7.5                    ?                1.020 3/20               6.7               7.5                    ?                1.022 3/21               7.8               7.5                  320               1.024       -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I've been having serious problems with animal losses and blue/green algae for months now, as many of you probably know from letters to Paul. I decided to pick everyone's brain while I'm at it, to see if there are differences in opinion as to how to solve my tank numbers. <Scott F. giving you his brain to pick tonight> I do  water changes every four days or so. The numbers just don't hold as you can see the big drop overnight on 3/20.    Do you not recommend dosing? My salt contains buffers, but they don't seem to be doing much good. Should I add a bit of Marine Buffer (Seachem) to the tank water?  Or, "Reef Builder?" I can hear you now,..............."NO!" <Yep- that would be me! I'm wondering what the pH of your source water is? Do you aerate or buffer it prior to mixing your salt? This can help drive out carbonic acid and provide a more suitable base for mixing salt> Oh, by the way, yesterday, when I was arranging rock to hide my powerheads, I found an old rusty razor! Could the iron from that hurt my tank? <Unlikely with the dilution afforded by the volume of water that a mid-sized tank affords> Just a thought! Wouldn't it be nice if that was the culprit all along? <Yeah- but it seems really unlikely!> Life doesn't get that easy though, huh? <Not sure why that it- but you're right!> Let me know what you think! I'll also post this for all the other guys at WETWEB! Okay? Pam                                                            <Well, Pam, I'm thinking along two lines. First, properly buffer and prepare source water before mixing salt. Second, make sure that your system has enough circulation/aeration to help keep oxygen levels, pH, and alkalinity high. Finally, do consider a more frequent water change interval...Perhaps two 5% weekly changes? This can help dilute any organics that can drive down pH before they can accumulate. All of these avenues are worth investigating...Keep at it! Regards, Scott F>

Low pH 3/27/04 I have a 55 gallon reef tank that has been going about 8 months.  I can't seem to get the PH up to 8.2-8.3 consistently the way I want it.  Right now it is at 8.0, and this seems to be where it trends toward.  The lights have been on for about 4 hours already, so I don't think it is a morning dip. The tank is very well aerated (a bit too aerated, there are visible micro bubbles in the water).   <make no mistake... there is such thing as "too aerated". An oxygen test kit will confirm that you still are not near saturation. The microbubbles are a flow/design flaw (fairly harmless) but not an indication of excess oxygen/air> I have a remora pro in my sump, with a mag 7 return pump giving me about 10x turnover.  I have 60 pounds of Carib sea Arag-alive as substrate, and have 50 lbs of Fiji live rock and 15ish pounds of base rock.  I thought with the aragonite and my light bioload (two percula clowns and a coral beauty, banded coral shrimp, orange Linckia star, a derasa clam and a bunch of soft corals) I would not have to worry about my alkalinity or ph, but this is definitely not the case.  I have been adding SeaChem buffer once or twice a week to get the alkalinity up.  Right now the alkalinity is at 4 meg/l, but the ph is at 8.0.  Shouldn't the PH be around 8.2-8.3 with my alkalinity at this level?  I also supplement calcium.  I used CaCl to get the calcium up when I got the clam about two months ago, and dose Kalk 1-2 times a week to maintain.   <yikes... please do read/realize that calcium chloride is not a good long term source/solution for Calcium supplementation. In fact, used to excess without large and frequent water changes... it could be a problem (aggravating a precipitous reaction from accumulated chloride ions). Liquid calcium is really only a temporary Ca solution IMO for quick fixes. Rely on calcium hydroxide, calcium reactors, water changes, etc instead> I don't have time to dose Kalk more often, so I am switching to ESV 2 part.   <'tis fine if used properly (albeit far more expensive than Kalk. And you do have time for Kalk my friend... do a keyword search of our archives (or look in my Book of Coral Propagation) for references to simply dosing a Kalk slurry> I wanted to get things stable before starting the 2 part so I could just add it evenly.   <good to hear... and you must. Dosing an imbalanced tank with 2-part mixes only continues the imbalance often at a higher level. There is not magic cure. The 2-part mixes are best used on a balanced system to continue the balance> Shouldn't my PH be 8.2-8.3 if my alkalinity is ok?   <not necessarily... and do aim for a better pH range of 8.3-8.5> I use red sea salt and change 20% every three weeks.  Is there anything else I can do to get my ph right?   <we must first ID the source of the flat pH... source water, lack of aerating and/or buffering purified evap water, excess CO2, etc> My apartment is an old factory, so I don't think I have the "my house is sealed too tight" issues. <this is easy enough to test for... take a sample gals of water and aerate the heck out of it for 12-24 hours (pH should not change much/at all)> The Linckia does not like it at all when the ph is low, and I am sure the corals don't either, they just don't show distress as easily. Thanks, -Ken <I cannot help you anymore than a direct tot he archives and our very extensive coverage of the subject. You have not provided us with any info on your attempts/history (testing tap water or not, etc). Anthony> High ph problem? 3/27/04 Hi there, Please could  you advise me as I fear I have made a mistake and am in fear of losing my Puffer. After studying your pages I decided to remove an old undergravel filter in my one fish only aquarium (55 gal), four months ago I purchased an Eheim 2028 professional filter with the intention of maturing this slowly in my system over the four month period, the theory was I could use my protein skimmer to remove most of the waste that was getting caught up in the undergravel (I have a Deltec in tank skimmer-very impressed) and the canister filter which is rated much higher than my tank volume should be able to cope with the biological side of things. Yesterday I did this, I removed the fish and took the opportunity to do a large water change as well (about 50%) as the nitrates where  very high. Today I find the nh3 level was about 0.3 and the ph off the chart (guessing about 9.0!!!), <hmmm... very surprising if even accurate. Do consider the test kit may be skewed/inaccurate/aged/corrupted and check against at least one other (different brand/type) kit. Over 9.0 is very uncommon... and a test of your source water should put this mater to rest likely. If its not also high, then it is fairly unlikely hat any dynamic in the aquarium has raised your pH so high> added some cycle changed more water and got the nh3 back down to 0, however the ph was still the same, do you think this could be simply be too high percentage water change with Instant ocean mix ( I have read that this salt mix can sometimes cause high ph) <yes...possible. Simply test some tap water and then some freshly mixed seawater to reduce variables here/ And again, do so with another test kit. "Check the checker" as our friend Bob Fenner says> or something more sinister going on? I am aware that the high ammonia and ph is not a good thing should I continue with the cycle? not feed him? change the water with a different mix? your expertise would be much appreciated. THANK YOU    Dave Squire (England) <I strongly suspect that a test of your source/tap water will put your mind to ease. And know that the shelf life of (most) dry reagent test kits is only a matter of months... liquid test kits are shorter (uncommon to be reliable much more than 6 months... and the reagent bottles are easily corrupted/contaminated). Cheers, Anthony>

Dip a Cow? >Hi, I have a couple of questions on quarantine and dipping.  I will be purchasing a juvenile tank raised percula clown and a small juvenile long horn cow.  My questions are: will it be okay to quarantine them in the same tank (10 gallon with a 3" PVC elbow for a hiding spot)?   >>I wouldn't unless they're both 1" or less.  I would also provide a few more hiding places, and/or cover the tank sides with black plastic so they feel a bit more secure.  Three of the four sides should help tremendously.  If you can get a 20 gallon, that would be much better (or a Rubbermaid tub). >With the dipping, I have Meth blue I had intended to use with freshwater, but is it safe for the cow?   >>The methylene blue is safe, but I would be careful dipping the cowfish.  Post dip I would definitely place it separately from the clown.  Cows are one of the few species I've actually made a practice to not dip. >Should I just use freshwater, or use saltwater with the Meth?   >>I think an acclimation in separate vessel (all acclimations should be done in vessel separate from final destination) with the methylene blue would be fine for the cow. >I don't want to stress the cow out too much, in fear of toxin release.  Also, on another note.  I have a 2 month old 72 gallon tank.  50 lbs of live rock, 25 lbs of base rock.  25 lbs of live sand and 25 lbs of marine sand. Inhabitants are 2 turbo snails, a camel shrimp ( in memory of my peppermint shrimp, the happiest shrimp in the world ), and a handful of dwarf blue and scarlet hermit crabs.   >>Watch the camel, they're not always so amicable as peps. >I have been unable to keep the pH up in this tank for quite some time now.  I have carbon and some phosphate sponge running in the filter.  The pH keeps dropping to about 7.9.   >>That's actually not terribly bad.  If the inhabitants are happy and healthy, then consider these other issues: wintertime in colder climates many folks experience sufficient build up of carbon dioxide as to lower pH.  Faulty/inaccurate test kit. >I have done a 50% water change with fresh salt in hopes that it would balance out the pH, but with no luck.  I had even taken water out of the main tank to fill the quarantine tank, and the main tank is down to 7.9, but the quarantine is at 8.1.  Any ideas on what is draining the pH in the main tank?   >>Not at this time. >When I first filled this tank, the pH was at 8.4, so I figured a large water change would work.   >>Don't fiddle with pH so much, 8.4 was fine, too.  You can QUICKLY kill many animals doing this. >I know sometimes it is hard to keep the pH up in well established or older tanks, but this one is neither.  I plan on buying a buffer for it, but I am wondering on what may be causing this.  Will I need the buffer for the life of this tank?   >>This depends, I would tend to look at these other issues.  It's difficult for anyone to say without knowing much more about the life, etc., to determine what's going on. >I thought today's salt mixes were made to establish a correct pH.   >>Allegedly, I like good old Instant Ocean, but prefer Real Ocean over that. >Please, any suggestions would be wonderful.  Thanks again for the fabulous info.   Cat >>You're welcome, try testing with a different kit, OR, if you can afford it, buy a pH meter instead (be sure to calibrate it carefully).  Marina

Frustrating pH problems 4/9/04 Hello - I have read almost every page of you site and I am still puzzled about my problem. Let's divide it into 2 problems first: a> The tank - 30 gal marine with corals and one fish, live rock, live sand, all in proportions as prescribed. Remora Pro HOT skimmer, Fluval 404 canister with sponges removed, Blueline pump going trough an Arctica chiller. Hood with 175 watt 10,000k bulb, 2 actinics, and moon lamp. Water is returned in 2 spots, once from the Fluval and one from a sprayer bar on the chiller return. No matter what I do the pH hovers right below 8 (7.95 area). I use a pinpoint pH monitor. There is no glass cover on the tank and the room it is in is well ventilated (I leave my doors open all the time for my dogs to go outside). The Fluval and the sprayer bar make the surface of the water move to facilitate gas exchange. <When during the day do your measure your pH?  It will always be highest just before the lights come off and lowest just before they come on in the morning.  For grins, you may wish to take a sample of water outside and aerate it for at least several minutes and test the pH.  If there is a significant rise in pH after aerating outside of your house, then CO2 is the problem.> b> Make up water, DI/RO with a little Amquel added (just in case!) in a 5 gallon bucket. I let a power hear run for an hour or two and add salt - instant ocean - then I bubble the water over night with an air stone and the power head. When I check the pH it is 8.5 and no higher. I have tried to add those pH uppers - the bicarbonates and such, and still the water goes no higher than 8.5. I have calibrated the meter. <IO usually mixes up a bit on the high side of pH.  What is the pH of your tap water?  Very low pH source water could come through the R/O wit low pH or even interfere with the proper function of the membrane.> So obviously the water in the tank is being lowered but the water I put in. But the water I put in is still low! Give me some suggestions on what I should do! My local fish store (it is 1 block away) tells me they have no problems like this and they us municipal water with some Amquel as a starting point (not RO/DI). <Have you compared the results from your meter to a good pH test kit?  When you calibrate the meter, are you using at least two reference solutions, ideally in the upper range (7 and 10)?  Are the solutions fresh?  Packets or bottles?  Older, opened bottles of pH reference solutions can change pH, throwing off the calibration.  Packets are better since they are sealed and single use.  It is important to calibrate to at least two levels (known as two point calibration).> I added some of the pH uppers to the tank and the pH didn't budge.  I have replaced the water as recommended - 1-2% per week. The alkalinity is a bit high (I bet it is from the buffers I am adding) but other than that all parameters are with in acceptable ranges. Oh and the only problem I have had in the tank at all is that one of my Acropora corals isn't so happy (no regularly visible polyp extension) - the other ones are all bushy and fine.  Nathan Tableman <Your pH of just below 8 is nothing to worry too much about (assuming it is correct).  Be cautious of buffers...  many contain excessive amounts of borate.  Borate will contribute to total alkalinity, but not carbonate alkalinity which is what benefits corals most.  What is your current strategy for maintaining calcium and alkalinity?  Calcium reactors tend to depress pH a bit, and Kalkwasser tends to raise it a bit.  Best Regards.  Adam>

- More on Low pH - General info on my aquarium below. My current problem involves my PH level which has been @ 8.0 for some time now. My water from my calcium reactor is 7.4 and my make-up water in my sump is 7.6. <I would start by working on improving the pH of your makeup water.> I have been adding buffers to maintain KH/Alk and this has not been a problem. <Uhh... but your pH is low... there IS a problem here.> I am told I need to increase my circulation and have ordered 2 Tunze stream pumps. <Robust circulation is a really worthwhile goal but this will likely do little to address your pH issues.> I have been given conflicting info on water from calcium reactor, is PH level to low?? <It's actually too high... should be lower, about pH 6.7.> Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. THANKS Aquarium: Aquarium is an acrylic 3'x3'x7' long unit(~480 gal.). It has a Bio-Wheel filtration system and a KNOP S IV Kalkreaktor. Lighting is metal halide(3-400W 10000K  bulbs) with 2-72" VHO super actinic bulbs. Actinics are on for about 12 hours, halides on for about 11 hours. <That is an extremely long photo period for metal halides... most folks leave them on about eight hours.> I have a 3-4" sand base with approx. 400 lbs. of live rock and about 300 lbs. of lace rock. System has been up for about 1 year and new lighting has been up for about 3 months. <It may be time to consider swapping out a good portion of this rock and replacing it with new stuff... I'd start with the lace rock as I doubt it's doing much to help your alkaline reserves. As rock and sand get older, and a year is a good anniversary for this, they lose their buffering capacity and no longer contribute to the alkaline reserve in your tank. On average, you should replace as much as 50% of your rock and substrate every year. This is likely not your only problem though, as I mentioned earlier, you should also consider storing and buffering your top off water before you add it to the tank. RO/DI is demineralized water and as such, it is "hungry" and will quickly deplete the various minerals in your tank, and this includes ones important to propping up your pH. Something else you might want to consider is putting some algae in your refugium and lighting it counter to the tank lighting... this will also help keep the pH up over the dark period.> Current livestock consists of 2 cleaner shrimp, 2 coral banded shrimp, ~10 sand sifting starfish, ~3 cucumbers, 5 brittle stars, 3 to 4 emerald crabs, ~40 red leg hermits, ~10 turbo snails, ~75 algae conehead snails, 1 scooter blenny, 1 blue dot Jawfish, 1 sleeper gold head goby, 1 Orangespot shrimp goby, 3 yellow tail damsels, 1 green Chromis, 3 Banggai cardinals, 1 blue eyed cardinal, 1 yellow Coris wrasse, 3 royal Dottybacks. Corals consist of 1 grape bubble, 1 open brain, 1 metallic brain, 1 chili coral, 3 star polyps, 1 candy coral, 1 finger leather, 1 flower leather, 2 toad stool leathers, 1 brown Acropora, 1 long tentacle plate, 1 plate, 1 green branching frogspawn, 1 green ridge anchor, 2 red Ricordea, 1 elephants ear mushroom, 1 gold leather, 1 yellow branching Porites, 1 glove anthelia, 2 purple ribbon Gorgonia, with several misc. mushrooms/polyps. Based on recent tests, calcium is ~375, salinity 1.023, pH 8.0, strontium < 4, Mg ~1275, Alk ~2.7,kH ~7.4, O2 ~6, temp. ~74 to 76, no detectable NO3/NO2/ammon. My calcium reactor has been a real problem keeping on, however I think I am getting close to getting problems worked out. <Sounds good. Cheers, J -- >

- More on Low pH, Follow-up - One question with regards to your reply. How do I get water from my calcium reactor down to 6.7??? <Either increase the CO2 infusion rate, decrease the effluent drip rate or both. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcreactors.htm Cheers, J -- >

New tank fits - 3/4/04 Hi,     I have spent a lot of money on my salt water setup (well a lot for me) and it just seems to be getting worse. <Sorry to hear this, what is going on?> I have had my 40 gal tank for 9 weeks. It cycled just fine. I use RODI water and used live sand and base rock. <So far so good. What about live rock. Did you have any of that. Base rock does have some ability for filtration but usually a more dense rock. Takes a long time to colonize> Two weeks ago the few fish I bought died. <Whoa!!> The fish store tested my water and everything was fine. <what does that mean? There is more to water quality than no ammonia and no nitrites> They said my ph was 8.0 and I should bring it up a little so they sold me some Oceans Blend ph/alk buffer and some calcium. <Great. They always have a selling solution.. PH too low could be caused by many things but the easiest way to replenish low PH is a water change. Low PH is not uncommon when lights are off. It is natural and normal for the PH to drop off a bit oxygen drops when the lights go out (usually to 8.0 or so.> I followed their instructions for about a week. Then my water got cloudy. <Likely PH may have crashed and alkalinity and calcium is out of whack. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm> It looks like its snowing in my tank <Sounds like precipitate of carbonates. read that last link> and my last two fish are covered with some sort of flaky stuff (sort of clear) one is now dead, one to go. <Maybe ich or other parasitic event. Needs to be identified. My starfish and crabs and polyps look ok but I worry they will be next. <Water changes as frequent as you can.> I did a major water change and it still looks bad. <Continue with he water change regime. At least 10% every 2-3 days. Stop adding the supplements.> Now I am lost and don't know what to do. <Knowledge is power. You are on your way, already.> They said this hobby was great for stress. <Can be> I guess they meant causing it. <Alas, can be at times when you care about your inhabitants as you and I> Please help. <Hopefully I have given you something to think on. Be sure to research issues and don't rely on one source (especially a fish store who relies on selling) for your only advice and suggestions> I don't want to get anymore fish. <I would hold off for a few more weeks to months. No more supplements unless you test for them.> I can't stand killing them. <I totally agree. Don't be too hard on yourself. You are moving in the right direction by coming here for help. We have nothing to offer but knowledge. Take your time. Think of your tank as a bonsai garden. It takes patience and planning to get the desired effect. The beauty of the garden is in the mind of caretaker. Use the most powerful tool you have - your mind.> Thanks ...........Deb <Hang in there. Let me know what else we can do. ~Paul>

What's the Difference?  pH >Let me start w\what a wonderful site, Info overload I love it. >>Heh, yeah, it's also a Googlewhack. >My question: Did normal water change today w\RO-di buffered 8.4.  After 1 hr checked ph in sump at 8.37 When (went) up stairs and checked ph in main tank and got reading of 7.37. checked cal. on meter and it was ok, checked sump again, 8.37. I normally check all parameters in sump. Checked tank  again and came up with 7.83 checked in different side of tank 7.4. Flow is 745 gal thru  sump +refuge. Any thoughts on how this can be?  Thanks,  Greg Boyd >>Greg, you're leaving out a good deal of information, so I have to make some extrapolations.  From the sound of it your tank and sump are remotely located from each other.  This means that, especially during these winter months, the display may be demonstrating effects of being in a heated room (higher CO2 levels = lower pH).  Also, I don't know anything about what you're housing in this tank, but I'm going to surmise that, because you're using such precise meters ( = expensive) that this is a reef tank, and that your sump is sump only, with no creatures placing any demands on calcium, etc.  It's great that you can tell me turnover rate, but it's lacking without knowing the total size of the system.  I'm thinking that if it's truly 745gph, that your display is about 75 gallons, which would mean you've got a 10x turnover, this is good.  So, how to equalize this HUGE disparity in pH?  I would try to figure out how to reduce the CO2 levels in the home, mix air instead of looking to mix water ONLY.  Marina - Low pH Trouble - hi bob and crew.... this is my tank and features: 46g bow front 80# of Southdown tropical play sand 50# Fiji live rock I am almost done with my cycling process but every time I check my pH it is right around 7.5 and this is check right after lights go out. I will give you my other water parameters, I just tested on 2 - 27 - 04. ammonia 0 nitrate 5 nitrite .3 pH 7.6 temp 79 SG 1.023 how am suppose to get my pH up to around 8.2? <Add a buffering compound.> my LFS was trying to sell me some pH buffer but I didn't get it. what is a natural way to get my pH levels up? <The buffering product they offered you is likely about as natural as you're going to get - good old Arm & Hammer baking soda is another good, cheap alternative.> I understand pH goes up and down through out the day. <It probably shouldn't go this low.> pH should be at its [highest] level right after lights go out correct? <Yes.> do I need some type of other sand in there to help as a buffer, such as Arag alive sand? <No... same as what you have already.> any help would be grateful. <Reconsider the buffer additions.> Thanks Tim <Cheers, J -- >

- Low pH Trouble - thank you so very much... but I am a new reefer coming over from the freshwater scene. <No worries.> To my understanding shouldn't your pH level be coming directly from your salt mix and your sand substrate? <In the ideal world, but for whatever reason I certainly don't live there. The pH of your freshwater is a factor. Bioload in the tank is a factor. Very, very often pH must be boosted with external means.> so am I at a dead end and probably should use a buffer. <Yes.> if I end up this route what buffer do you recommend? <Baking soda.> I have also been reading that buffers will only keep your pH up for a hour or two then drop back down? <In the case that insufficient buffers are added, I'm sure this is true.> does pH have anything to do with your CA and Alk levels? <Indirectly - please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm > if it does I do not have test kits for ca or alk. <Wouldn't be concerned with these at this time. Cheers, J -- >

- Low pH Trouble, Follow-up - I just checked the pH of my r/o water that I use for top offs, and the pH read at 7.2? I do not know if this sounds right or not, isn't pure water the pH supposed to be 7.0? <Give or take a point or two, sure... sounds right to me.> by any chance does salinity have an effect of the pH reading? <Not that I am aware of.> I think I can up my SG a little bit. I am at 1.022 now. how accurate I don't know since this is with a plastic hydrometer. basically from what I am seeing is that my salt mix, and sand are only moving my pH .3 up to 7.5, I guess I will have to go out and get some buffer. <Agreed. Cheers, J -- > pH Woes 2/24/04 Hi - 100 gal. reef, pH too low. I have a new & calibrated PinPoint monitor, and it's showing about 7.9 in the morning, rising to a high of 8.05 in the late lights-on period, and back down from there throughout the night. (I'm targeting 8.3 as my highest reading.) <Try this experiment, particularly if you live a newer home:  Take a sample of water out doors and aerate with an airstone for a few minutes and then measure the pH of that sample with your pH monitor.  If the pH of the aerated sample is more than .1 higher, you are likely accumulating CO2 in your home.> My salinity is 1.025, dKH is about 17, and calcium about 300 (also too low.) I've been doing the following but nothing seems to help : <Yowza!  dKH of 17 is quite high and can lead to the precipitation of calcium and magnesium.> 1.)Frequent water changes (every few days) of between 5 % & 20 % with 1.025 & pH 8.3 water. <I would continue these, but read on...> 2.)Adding the recommended 5 teaspoons per day of SeaChem's 8.3 Marine Buffer.  <I would discontinue this.  First because your dKH is already too high, and second because many commercial aquarium buffers are high in Borate.  Borate alkalinity will be measured by your test kit, potentially masking low carbonate alkalinity in the face of normal or elevated total alkalinity (most if not all hobby test kits measure total alkalinity and assume a certain contribution by borate.)> 3.)Adding the max. amount of TMC's Bio-Calcium (about 10 scoops per day.) <Bio calcium adds both calcium and alkalinity.  I would halt the use of this until your alkalinity is back in normal range.  A couple weeks of decent water changes should help bring it back in line.  In the mean time, if calcium begins to fall, choose a strictly calcium product to maintain it until both alkalinity and calcium are in normal ranges.> I think the Bio-Calcium, pH buffer and existing tank pH and alkalinity are working against each other, some how. <This may be true.  Performing the experiment described above will confirm or rule this out.> Immediately after adding the bio-calcium, the pH drops down to the low 7's, which I attribute to the carbon dioxide liberated upon adding the stuff (makes a lot of heat and fizzies when added to water.) However, TMC's product blurb says that it won't alter pH if used as directed, which I am doing. <You are correct about the liberation of CO2.  You are adding this product in dry form directly to the aquarium, correct?  Pre-mixing this product with water will lead to the precipitation of many of it's ingredients.> My DSB is calcite, and I will be adding about another 10 or 20 lbs of aragonite to help out with the above. The crux of the issue here is that a few of my recently acquired SPS frags have died, and the longer lived ones have retracted their polyps either partially or completely. I have 2 LPS frags living in the sand, and they seem relatively happy (polyps are swelled as when I got them many months ago.) <Not much influence here.  Your problem is clearly not buffer related.  The additional sand may be of benefit in nitrate management, but will not influence pH.> One more thing - many of my snails and mini-conches have also gone to the great reef tank in the sky, all within a few day period before I began trying to fix this pH problem. Interestingly, my tank has been fallow for 6 weeks due to ich-ness, and I've just realized that I haven't been feeding the tank the same amount of food, just my 3-times weekly infusion of plankton and krill (for the filter feeders and cleaning shrimp.) Maybe the greatly reduced bio-load in the tank has (counter-intuitively) had a hand in this? <This could be because of starvation or because of altered water chemistry.  Please do continue water changes to correct any aberration of borate/carbonate alkalinity, and to return total alkalinity to normal.  You did not mention a skimmer.  Lack of a skimmer, improper water flow, and tightly sealed hoods/sumps can all lead to CO2 accumulation.  If the results of the experiment described lead to CO2 as a culprit, consider which of the above (or cracking a window in the room where your tank is) is appropriate to correct the problem.> Any help is appreciated, SLC <Best Regards.  Adam>

pH Woes & high alkalinity 3/2/04 Thanks Adam or WWM-crew-person... <Glad to!> will stop all supplements, do some massive water changes over the next week, and try the CO2 test you indicated.  Yes, I am adding the BioCalcium directly to the water...and I run an AquaC skimmer with about 100mg per hour of ozone, and the ORP is around 350ish. The tank is very open (I've engineered a cool glass cover that is raised about 3/4" off the tank, lets bad stuff out of tank but keeps good in (water splashes and fish.) I have noticed (now that you mention it) slight changes in pH before (tank sealed) and after (now, very open), and yes I live in a brand new home with the doors and windows sealed shut (winter requirements.) <If you get a big change in pH with the sample aerated outdoors, you may have to slightly crack a window in the room where the tank is.> And, a nasty white residue has covered everything in the tank, which seems to be the precipitation problem you mentioned. I don't know how I got the dKH to 17, I suspect it may be even higher but my test kit started to give ambiguous water color changes past that point.<Not a surprise that this result is at the upper limit of your kits range.  You are probably correct about the precipitate.> I have a few more questions : 1.) Are most of the hobby kits you find at mass pet stores not really that accurate when it comes to calcium, alkalinity and hardness? The distinct color changes for the precipitation based kits (calcium, for example) don't seem to happen for me, there is a many-drop range where the color shifts from the begin to end color range indicated in the kit (not the sudden, brilliant one you'd like to see.)  <Some are very accurate, some are questionable.  Salifert and Tropic Marin kits are top quality, but often the color changes are hard to detect.  Other brands have more distinct color changes, but at the cost of some accuracy.  LaMotte and Hach test kits are professional quality and have a price to match, but are hard to beat for accuracy.  You can overcome some of the slow color change problem by waiting several seconds and mixing well between drops.  Also scrutinize your kits instructions to find out if the end point is ANY color change or COMPLETE color change.> 2.) Do most salt mixes contain some kind of built in buffering capacity?  I've been to Instant Ocean's web site, but can't find any detailed info. On this. This may explain why I had my pH woes start when I started water changes using natural sea water from Catalina. <Every decent salt will mix up to produce an alkalinity in the range of natural sea water.  Most won't explicitly state this, but you can test it for your self.  I would check the Catalina water.  I have heard that filtered NSW is often depleted of calcium and alkalinity.  This may be to your advantage while trying to correct your current problem, but may be an issue in the future.> 3.) Per your statement that aragonite will not help the pH ... isn't aragonite supposed to dissolve and help with buffering, especially at pH ranges above 8.0 (while calcite dissolves below 8.0) ? Kind of confused on this one. <Aragonite will only begin dissolving in significant quantity when the pH falls into the low-mid 7's.  Even at that, it is rarely enough to meet the calcium and alkalinity demands of most aquaria.> Thanks again ahead of time, SLC <Best Regards!  Adam> - Using Baking Soda to Lower pH - Hello, I followed the advice on how to lower the pH in a tank by adding small amounts of baking soda while doing a water change.  Shortly after my protein skimmer got clogged up with precipitated baking soda, so I stopped adding baking soda.  But, the problem with the clogging has continued such that I need to clear the skimmer every two weeks. Is there any solution to this problem? <Do tell more about your tank chemistry... have you done any alkalinity tests? What pH is your tank now? What do you want to lower it to? I do think you may have really high alkalinity which is why something is precipitating out on your protein skimmer. Baking soda is most often added to raise a lower pH up into the range of about 8.3. Would like to know a little more before I hazard a guess.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

- Using Baking Soda - hi j, <Hi.> what I meant to say is I was using baking soda to raise the pH, an enterprise I have since given b/c the pulsing xenia that I was trying to do it for is no longer. <Uh.. oh well... sorry to hear this.> my alkalinity is at about 120 and the pH is at 7.8 <Need to work more on your basic husbandry here - a pH of 7.8 is very low. Cheers, J -- >

- Baking Soda not Working - yeah,  like I said I had been using baking soda to lift the pH but this did not work b/c it was clogging up my protein skimmer.  so, what is the best chemical to use to raise the ph. Ben <Ben, in my opinion, baking soda is the best item to bring the pH up safely. I really am in doubt that it is baking soda that is clogging your protein skimmer - probably looks very similar. Perhaps you are doing something wrong when you add the stuff. Do evaluate more carefully what is building up in your skimmer - look for other causes of your low pH. Cheers, J -- > Water Parameter Definitions... Hi Scott, just another question which suddenly come to my mind ... FYI, I have consistently measured and maintained dKH in the range of 10 to 12 dKH. The question is, do I still need to measure pH and maintain it in the range of 8.1 to 8.3 as what you suggested in website ? <You should target as consistently stable a pH as possible, in this range. Keep in mind that pH will tend to fluctuate between night and day in most systems.> What is the different between dKH and pH ? Thanks. Best regards, PJ <Well, PJ, simply stated, pH is the relative measure of the hydrogen/ion concentration (hydrogen ions vs. hydroxyl ions) in your water. The term "dKH" is a (German) measure of the carbonate/bicarbonate content of the water. High carbonate hardness helps keep pH stable, and allows invertebrates and corals to achieve optimum calcification. Stable, moderately high readings of both parameters are desired. Much more information about these topics can be found on the WWM site! Enjoy the research! Regards, Scott F.>

Using Buffer 2/16/04 Anthony----will do water changes ,first one in the morning, I will test Ph in the tank first, suppose its 8.05 again, what should I set my buffer for ,for my water change? 8.1 maybe 8.2 ? I don't want to set my buffer to high or I will be doing what I did before. Right?  Charlie <Charlie... you simply need to use and obey your test kits. Add enough buffer to your raw after as it takes to get a strong pH/ALK reading in t he final mix (target 8.4-8.6). Really is that simple. Anthony. You may need to buy and read a good book too my friend. Answers these fundamentals nicely: "New Marine Aquarium" by Mike Paletta... Bobs CMA... or the first half of my BOCP1 (all reef fundamentals). Anthony>

Low pH wintertime blues - well insulted houses 2/13/04 Hello, Crew----I have a 30 gallon tank I started three weeks ago. My RODI water in the tank will not go above 8.0,Ive put 5 teaspoons of SeaChem's marine buffer in still cant get it above 8.0, <Yowsa.. easy on that/any such stuff mate> My alkalinity is going up >From 3.0 to 6.0meg/L  I am thinking its a C02 problem. <correct> We have gas heat for the whole house. Now what is funny is, my top off water I buffered a little high around 8.9 to help raise the tank .It has a lid on and it stays right at 8.9, but my tank wont move passed 8.0, <different room in the house I assume> I've been adding a quart of top off water a day, still doesn't move. Could I try running a air hose from the outside to my tank with an air stone? <yep... works well my friend. There are more than a few Tetra/Willinger Bros Luft pumps outside pumping air into tanks and skimmers for just this reason <G>> Its to cold to open a window.!!!! <agreed> Please advise---Charlie <you already know what to do my friend.. good work. Anthony>

Dilution is the Solution to Pollution :) 2/14/04 Anthony, Please one question, a quick review----30 gallon tank, 5" sand bed, into fourth week of cycling, using SeaChem's buffer, can't get PH above 8.05, used about 5 teaspoon full of buffer so far. How many water changes, and how much of a water change? Sorry to bother you like this.  Thanks Charlie <no bother at all... but noticing that you have a 5" bed of sand (fine I assume), I am even more sure that you have an adequate pool of buffer in the system (natural in this case) and should require very little supplementation. With 6-8" beds of sand in my greenhouse tanks, I went years without needing to add practically any buffer at all... just Calcium hydroxide with added Ca of course and then indirectly buffered Alk by its caustic nature. And the sand bed simply dissolved slowly. You clearly have a CO2 problem to me (assuming the test kits are accurate). I'd suggest one or 2 50% water changes within a 2 weeks period. This should bring you back to par nicely. Anthony>

pH problems 1/31/04 Hey, just a quick question for you guys. First of all, thanks for the great website and for all the effort everybody has put into it. It has really helped me through a lot in this sometimes frustrating hobby.. I have searched through all the FAQs on Ph and Alkalinity and couldn't find the answer to my problem. I also searched through the RO sections. I did however find a person with the same problem, but it was never cleared up. Ok, the question.. <Wow! Sounds like you have been quite diligent.> When I make up top-off water I heat and aerate the water for 24 hours to drive off carbonic acid.. I do this in a 5 gallon bucket of old salt mix with a MaxiJet 1200 on the bottom facing upwards to create surface agitation. I have a pump with air stone I use also to make extra sure it aerated good enough.. I then add a half teaspoon of Seachem marine buffer and a half teaspoon of Seachem reef builder. I let this mix and circulate for another 12-24 hours. After about 90 minutes after adding the buffer the water test at 8.4 ... I then waited 7 hours and tested another time.. It tested at 8.2 ... I waited another 7 hours after that and retested. It tested at 7.8.. I have tried opening windows. I have tried aerating for a couple of days prior to mixing and nothing seems to help. I tried mixing for 3 days or so thinking the buffers haven't had time to dissolve totally, but nothing seems so help.. It still falls to 7.4-7.8.. after 24 hours or so. I just can't figure out why the buffer and reef builder is falling out of solution or being eaten up some how. I shouldn't have to add buffer ever day to keep a constant ph level. I just can't figure it out.. Maybe you guys can enlighten me on what's going on. <Two things are occurring in some combination. First, the buffers in these products are actually LESS soluble in fresh water than in salt water (I know this is counter intuitive, but trust me!). Second, the manufacturer puts a variety of chemicals in these products so that long term use does not lead to the accumulation or depletion of certain ions from your aquarium. The combination of these two things will lead to precipitation in your bucket. I suspect that you have noticed a powdery white precipitate in the bottom of your bucket, or the water becomes slightly cloudy. My suggestion is to use these products one at a time (alternate between them) and only add them to the aerated water immediately before use.> I hate to bother ya'll with stuff like this, but it really has been bothering me. I don't want to drive my tanks ph down by adding low ph water. I have read through just about every faq page on the website over the years for knowledge and for when any question arose.. It has been a blessing indeed. Keep up the good work. Thanks in advance, Jeff Trumble <No need to worry about driving your tank pH down. The buffers are still there, and in the CO2 consuming daylight hours in a reef tank, they will resort back to the desired pH. You just won't be getting the most effect for your money. Glad you have found benefit from WWM! Adam>

Low pH 1/30/04 Hello, <howdy, Thanassis> my 80 gal reef aquarium (5 months old) has an alkalinity of 11 dKH but the PH is 7.8 to 7.9. <Alk is pushing high and the pH is indeed getting scary low> I tried to raise the PH by adding baking soda or by adding the alkalinity bottle of B-ionic , but the result was that only the alkalinity was raised and not the PH. <in such cases... dilution is always the best policy. DO several large water changes in the next couple of weeks to dilute the imbalance (likely from misapplied supplements... a common mistake we all make). Then test and resume with balanced B-Ionic dosing for example> Now I have 16 dKH alkalinity and the PH is still at 7.8. <Yikes... that Alk is getting dangerously high... putting you at risk of a precipitous reaction in the tank. Please do a large water change ASAP> I can not measure my calcium levels yet, due to faulty tests (I getting a Salifert test kit soon), but I have a good grow of coralline algae. I would like to start adding equal quantities of B-ionic as soon as I know exactly the levels of alkalinity and calcium and my PH is at good levels. <yes... exactly, my friend> My question is how can I rise my PH without rising my alkalinity? Thanks Thanassis from Greece <no worries... "When in doubt, do a water change" :) Anthony>

pH Problem 1/30/03 Sorry to bother you guys but I need help...I have a pH spike all the time . <Hi Anthony.  No bother at all!> My readings are SG 1.022/Sal 30-31/Nitrite 0/Nitrate 0/Ammonia 0/Calcium  370-400/alk 5.0 mel-q (fluctuates)/temp 76/ pH 8.5 to  8.6 LIGHTS OUT!!! pH 8.3 to 8.5 peak lighting  what the hell is going on ? I have 26 gal. bowfront, 40 lbs live rock ,Eheim 2227 wet-dry, AMiracle sl-5 wet-dry with skimmer, Eheim 2213 with in line angstrom UV,150 watt 50,000 K Iwasaki metal halide 6 inches above tank for 24 inches of water, light is on for 9-12 hours a day, very small patch of green star polyps, 2 small rocks of yellow polyps, one small green mushroom coral rock, 2 thriving feather dusters, flame scallop doing very well),1 small percula clown,1 small Brazilian damsel, numerous snails and tiny hermits, red sea star small) ,small emerald crab, Not too much algae growing just very small patches of filamentous hair here and there, some small amounts of film on glass and some areas of rock. I cant seem to get my pH to stay down!!!! any suggestions ? Baking Soda ? Too much light ?HEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPP!!! <A pH of 8.5-8.6 is a bit high, but nothing to panic about.  It is quite odd that it is higher with the lights off.  Please do verify your results with another test kit of a different brand.  Also, many buffers/alkalinity boosters can raise pH significantly (B-Ionic is an outstanding product, but notorious for raising pH).  Your alkalinity is a bit on the high side too, so I would suggest backing off of whatever supplement you are using.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Baking Soda As A pH Buffer Hi, <Hi there- Scott F. with you today> How much baking soda to keep around 8.0- 8.2? Tap water comes out at 8.0. Thanks, Bart <Well, Bart, I'd start conservatively with about 1/4 teaspoon per gallon, measuring pH as you go. Unfortunately, it's trial-and-error, but take careful notes as you do this, and you'll have a "recipe" for future use! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

- Tank Move - Low pH - Hello, I'm in the process of moving a 20 gal reef into a new 75, tank residents are 2 small Ocellaris clowns, 1 yellow tang, 35 Nassarius snails, 4 turbo snails, 10 blue leg reef hermits, a small Ricordea, a small Favia, a small Wellsophyllia, a small yellow polyp colony and 25 lbs of live rock.  This tank has been setup for about a year, and doing great, good coralline growth, lots of pods.  the only filtration for about 8 months was 1 hang on carbon filter, and 1 Millennium 1000 hang on with a bacteria grid, 1 powerhead for movement.  I got the 75 with a wet-dry system and a protein skimmer, I needed to build a stand, so I hooked up the wet-dry and skimmer to the 20 gal to get some bacteria going so to speed up the cycle on the new tank, BTW I test the water weekly and all chemistry of good.  Well, the new tank is going in the same place that the 20 gal is setting, so I drain off enough water to move it easily, and set it back up with the initial filtration and put the wet-dry on the new tank.  The water is cloudy and the corals are not happy, tested the water and 0 ammonia, 0 nitrate, <0.3 mg/l nitrite, but ph had dropped to 7.7 and KH had dropped to 7, so I added some buffer, still no improvement. <Therein is the problem - need to work primarily on the pH now.> The Ricordea and yellow polyps are alive but have shrunk a lot, so I moved the Ricordea to the new 75 gal. and it perked up and looks better yellow polyps are starting to open also, all water chem. is good on this one too but has only been up and running 1 day, I want to save everything but I'm at a loss, any advice would be appreciated. <Would look to anything new in the 75 - decor, rock, etc. - that would be dragging the pH down. In lieu of that, I'd have a couple of large water changes queued up - make sure the pH is on the money - and then execute a couple of large changes - perhaps 25-50% a couple of days apart.> Thanks, Rob <Cheers, J -- >

Sand sifting starfish and PH Dear Bob Fenner For the last year I have had a sand sifting star (Astropecten polyanthus) in my refugium and two of them in my 55 gal reef tank.  I recently heard they eat all the life out of the sand.  Is that true? <Many phyla, a good quantity, yes. In a system of your size (about four square feet of bottom... a great percentage of what will be found> On the other hand without the stars my sand would not be as sparkling white as it is now.  So the bottom line is are sand sifting starfish good or bad in reef tanks and refugiums? <Good or worthwhile for many types of tanks, not so good for most types of refugiums> And if they are not good how do you go along the lines of keeping your sand clean. <If there's a bunch of worms, crustaceans, mollusks... in the refugium substrate, likely nothing to do... if not, the occasional stir "stick" (a thick dowel of plastic or wood)> Note I have 2 true perculas, six line wrasse, Banggai cardinal, filamented flasher wrasse, blood red fire shrimp, cleaner shrimp, banded coral shrimp, and two peppermint shrimp. too may corals to list. water good.  also I need to know how to raise PH preferably without chemicals or buffers. <Frequent partial water changes, keeping your skimmer cleaned/tuned, careful feeding, ozone...>   but if that is the only way then ok. <If the tank is crowded, over-fed, best to rely on chemical buffers, pH boosters, even a calcium reactor>   PH is around 8.1 wanted 8.3 for my new pumping xenia. or is 8.1 ok for pumping xenia ( Red Sea  Xenia spp.)                  <8.1 should be fine (measured in the AM?), I would occasionally dose iodide/iodine. Bob Fenner>  Kris Wendorf

Plummeting pH? Hello, I hope your holidays went well. <Thanks! Scott F. with you today!> I recently did a water test on my 40 gallon acrylic tank. So far there is a very small tang, clownfish, and Banggai cardinal and 2 inverts...a cleaner shrimp and a pistol shrimp.  I bought a 2 x 65 power compact light about a week ago and I am planning to get some soft coral soon.  Just waiting to see what "develops" before I introduce anything. <Nothing wrong with that strategy!> Well to my surprise everything about the water was perfect no nitrate, no nitrite, 1.025 salinity, alkalinity was fairly high, and I have been doing regular water changes about every two weeks at the longest.  Which was absolutely normal for the tank.  Then I did a pH test and it was off the charts...It was supposed to at least be a greenish color at the lowest and it was bright yellow.   I added buffer and a calcium supplement and the pH returned to normal.  I've been doing some reading and it seems I might be having a gas exchange problem.....at least I think. <Very good hunch...And most likely, the problem!> Could the low pH be from the algae that initially formed from my new light. <I'm wondering what time of day you took the test. Most tanks have a fluctuating day/night pH. However, if it was low in daylight hours, it could portend a problem.> I have since bought more snails to clear up my tank.  They are doing a great job but maybe they are creating more waste???   <Well, yes. But with good husbandry, their impact should be negligible> I currently have two airstones in the tank and a rotating powerhead for circulation.  Is there anything I can do to keep the pH at a normal level? <Frequent small water changes with quality water, careful feeding, and lots of good circulation. If you're keeping macroalgae in your sump, you could light the sump on a "reverse" schedule (i.e.; lights on in the sump when display tank is dark) to help balance the pH. Also, take your pH readings throughout the day to see what the levels are. That can give you a good idea as to what's going on> I have cut the "day" a little short also The blue actinic light is on for 8 hours and the day bulb is on for 6 hours.  Is night too long???? <I'd go for a 12/12 schedule, myself> I'm totally confused and worried about my inverts...the cleaner shrimp is missing an antennae. <I wouldn't be too concerned, unless you see serious aggression going on. These animals can regenerate these body parts in many cases.> All of the hermit crabs appear to be ok as well as the pistol.  Have a great day...any information you can provide would be great.    <My pleasure. Try the ideas we talked about here, and act on your gas exchange hunch. With a little effort, I think that you'll be able to tackle this problem with relative ease. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> It's In The Bag- Or Is It? (Pt. 2) Greetings again Crew, <Scott F. back with you today!> Thanks for your reply, nice to have other minds to lean on when things get tough. To answer your query, the bags in question were aquarium specific and brand new, and I soaked them for ~24 hrs in RO water to get any "stuff" off them before I attached them. I do that to anything that comes near my tank. <Great procedure! Everyone should learn from this practice!> But a new wrinkle... last night during water tests my ph plummeted to 7.8, ARRGH... that was after ~20% water changes on two consecutive days, the water was aged and aerated overnight before added to the tank... I am thinking that the bags worked too well and cut the bubbles down to the point that CO2 became a problem and killed my ph. I have been on a bubble jihad for about a month now and maybe I went too far. I removed the felt bags and cursed them before I threw them out. <I agree with that theory. After my initial response, I was giving that a lot more thought, and I think that may be the most valid theory> During yesterday's h20 change I vacuumed the gravel, only the top layer, and scraped the glass, could all this also add to my ph issue? I thought I was way more buffered than this. <Well, it could possibly liberate some organic material, which could drive down the pH...Yep-possible...> This morning the inverts were a little better but the purple mushrooms and the Goniopora were still not back, fish OK, just a little skittish and hungry (when I'm near the tank the Sailfin tang will come up to the glass, turn and look me straight in the eye for about 20 sec.s. sort of sizing me up) <LOL> Ever heard of this type of effect? I'm still curious as to the whole nitrifying bacteria being harbored in the bags thing and whether it began the slide. As you can probably tell, I'm a little neurotic about the health and well-being of my tank residents and I was proud of not having any drama during the first 6 months that resulted in fish torture. <You sound like you're right on top of things! I am not overly concerned about the nitrifying bacteria accumulating in the filter bags. They will colonize such materials, but if very  regularly cleaned and/or changed, these bags will not accumulate organics which will increase nitrate noticeably, IMO> I cannot express fully the appreciation I have for you and the resource you provide. May it come back in spades! Regards, Walter <Once again, Walter- it's our pleasure and privilege to be of service! Take care! Scott F> 

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