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FAQs about Marine Water Quality 4

Related Articles: Captive Seawater Quality, Nutrient Control and Export, Water Changes/ChangingUnderstanding Calcium & Alkalinity,

Related FAQs: Marine Water Quality 1, Marine Water Quality 2 Marine Water Quality 3, Marine Water Quality 5, Marine Water Quality 6, Marine Water Quality 7, Cloudy Water, Smelly Water, Films on Top of Water, RO/DI & Distilled Water 1Environmental Disease,

Neoniphon sammara

Remineralization Hi Guys. >>Hi!>> I tried searching for a while but I couldn't find this question asked quite the same way.  If I missed it, I apologize. >>No problem>> I am using RO/DI water, and use Instant Ocean salt for water changes.  The LFS I deal with has suggested Aragamight to remineralize water changes, but said not to worry about top off water.  To me this seems backwards.  Aragamight contains calcium, carbonate, strontium, magnesium and potassium.  Does the salt not also contain these elements, making the addition of Aragamight or similar redundant? To me, it would seem more important to remineralize top off water, but 'part b' to my question would be how to do this with an auto top-off float valve in a sump? >>It does make more sense to add it to the top off water, but I don't think it is a great way to add any of those elements to your system. I do think it is redundant. Kalk, Ca reactor or two part additives are better and easier to use. This article talks about these issues and even Aragamight: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/july2002/chem.htm FWIW, I use RODI straight from the tube and never have had any problems.>> Thanks in advance, Ron >>Hope it helps. Rich>>

Clearing Out The Clouds... I have a 175gal Oceanic reef ready salt water aquarium that I set up  8 weeks ago. I have been having problems with silt floating in the aquarium. I have a goby that does a great job cleaning the substrate but the silt it produces makes the water a light white color. <Ahh- so efficient- but so frustrating!> Any suggestion to reduce the amount of silt from the substrate. Mechanical filtration? Vacuum the substrate? <How about using one or more of those "micron filter socks" under your sump's standpipes would catch a lot of the floating silt...> I have  a Sea Life 300 Pro wet and dry filter with  built in skimmer running with 80 to 90 pounds of live rock and Marineland 350 filter that runs an UV sterilizer. <Sounds fine! I'd go with the filter socks, cleaned and/or replaced often (like weekly, or even twice weekly) for maximum results! They should do the trick!> Thanks. William <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

- Drywall / Joint Compound -- Cloudy Water - Thanks again for this service that you guys provide to us! <Is a pleasure to serve.> I have a question regarding my initial setup, I have a tank that is in wall and viewable on both sides.  During the renovation drywall dust and joint compound fell into the tank.  I have cleaned out a good portion of it before putting the initial water into the system but was told by my aquarium guy that the rest of it would be ok and filtered out.   Well the white clouds in the water have since coated the insides of the clear vinyl hoses running between the tank and sump.  Because it wouldn't settle out, I have drained out and wiped down the entire system (except for the hoses) and refilled. The water was obviously very clear when the tank was filled, but it then clouded up (residue in hoses) and is slowly being filtered out.  But it has been a week now that the residual cloudiness is not clearing.  I am at my wits end now, could you suggest how to clear this water up? <You might see if your 'aquarium guy' has access to a diatom filter - these are capable of removing very small particle sizes and would likely polish your water pretty well. You might also try some activated carbon to see if that filtration method will catch some of this dust.> I plan on having a reef tank so water quality is a must! New setup 150g Perfecto 48"x24"x30" WxDxH tank Amiracle XL Mudd Sump in basement (approx 35g?) (14.5' head) Amiracle (CPR style hang-on overflow) with a Rio 2600 rejuvenation venturi powerhead to check valve on top of overflow. (trying to make 2 Durso standpipes) Gorman Rupp 510 1" SeaSwirl return 2 x 175 wt MH 2 x 65 wt Ultra actinic PC Thank you. - Cloudy and Frustrated <Be patient... you will need this trait over and over again while developing this system. Cheers, J -- >

- Running out of Patience - This tank is driving me nuts now, since it went cloudy after the water changes I thought I would wait it out and it took about 2-3 weeks and the tank started to clear up, but guess what, just when it almost clear, it went cloudy again, just as bad, if not worse, it has been cloudy for like a month now and I have no idea how to clear it up, if I can not get it clear soon, I will give up and drain it, because its starting to really bug me, it looks like crap, the water is a slimy green and still tests ok, any Ideas? <Well... just going on your previous email, I think there might be an issue with your tap water. Have you ever tried RO or the very least distilled? It seems to me that your cyano problems are coming in as passengers in your tap water. Likewise, in your previous email it was mentioned... patience is a virtue, and one you should have in spades for this hobby. If you are admittedly not a patient person, and not willing to become more patient, then this hobby may not be for you. Only bad things happen fast in reefkeeping, and you've been changing water like it was going out of style... especially when it could be your water that is causing the problems. Similarly, if you are adding anything else to the water - iodine, fish solution, calcium, buffers, or anything like that, you need to stop... let the tank come into its own. My last question/statement would be this... what type of substrate are you using? Could be you've selected something too fine which is ending up in suspension all the time... I've seen this happen with Southdown for instance, and the solution is to put a layer of larger, heavier crushed coral on top to keep the sand where it's supposed to be and not floating all over your tank. I'd love to discuss this more, but don't know enough about your methodology, the tank, and what you're putting in it. Do let me know. Cheers, J -- >

WQ parameters Hi there, <Howdy> Great website, very informative. I have a quick question about Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite readings. What are considered "safe" for a fish-only system? All the cheap home test kits have different detection levels, and they don't specify whether the results are as Nitrogen or not, i.e. NH3 vs. NH3-N. Please clarify this for me. <Zip, nada, zilch for ammonia and nitrite, and a few tens ppm of nitrate are about right. Bob Fenner> Thanks much. Tracy Manning

RE: WQ parameters Thanks for the quick response, but 20 ppm of NO3 as N equates to around 80 ppm of NO3 as NO3 - which one are we talking about here? <The latter, which the vast majority of kits measure. Bob Fenner>

Preserving Salt Water Hey, I'm getting ready to break down my 55 gal. aggressive salt tank, so I can drill it,  set up a sump for it, and set up with the contents of my 20 gal. reef. Should I save the saltwater in clean sealable pails to re-set the tank so I don't have to mix up new water, and if so , how long can I save it? Also, I have live rock in my  20 gal. reef, can  I just put it in the new tank when my levels are good, or should I actually acclimate it like when introducing new fish? <acclimate it, And I wouldn't preserve the salt water, I would just start over once the aquarium has been drilled>  Thanks for your help!  Louie <you're welcome, IanB>

Specific Gravity Hi, I have a 75 gallon fish only tank.  I have 2 false perculas (tank raised), 2 lemon butterflies, 1 flame hawk fish and 1 dwarf angel.  I have read that FO systems can get by with lower specific gravity than reef tanks,  but that some fish still may need a higher one, such as clowns. <yes they can>   Please advise as to what specific gravity level would be acceptable for all of the above fish. <I keep mine around 1.020-1.023>   Can tank raised clowns adapt better than wild ones to lower specific gravity than their wild counterparts who are used to an environment with higher levels?  <yes, they can>   Thank you for your help. James  <good luck, IanB>

Water Changes <Hey, Ryan with you> I just switched over my 20 gallon tank to a 45-50 gallon tank.   <Great!>  I have two 2 clowns, 1 rusty angel, 1 yellow tail damsel, 4 small hermit crab, 2 brittle stars, 21/2 to 3 inches of live sand, 10 lbs of live Fiji rock, 30 lbs of lava rock I got from my fresh water tank and a large 20lb ocean rock that I found.  <OK>  I currently do water changes by filling up a bucket of tap water, adding salt and doing the water change.  <Water conditioner?  Do you let it aerate?>  My little brother says that this is not the correct thing to do. He says I should aerate the water with a air stone and treat the water with some type of water conditioner like Amquel and let it sit for a few days.  <24 hours is enough> Would it be okay to just let the tap water sit in a closed bucket for a few day (no aeration)?  <A powerhead or air stone is so helpful, and you don't need an expensive one.>  Will this get rid of all the terrible chemical in the water?  <Possibly-depends what is in your water to start.>  How do you recommend I treat my water and do my water changes?   Tom  -  Merced, Ca <More research.  Please check out the FAQs for successful water change regimens.  Good luck, Ryan>

Calcium snow? Shouldn't be. Howdy. Over the last couple of days there seems to be more particulates in my 3-month old 160 and the top of my power heads have a light dusting of fine white particles. I was concerned that perhaps this was the start of a "snow storm" but pH=8.2, alk=10dKH, Ca=350ppm, Mg=1250ppm (these values have been rock steady since starting the calcium reactor 2 months ago). Not the sort of conditions that I have read in your FAQ's that would precipitate Ca. Maybe things just got stirred up and this will settle or filter out. I have yet to start supplementing with Ca. Is there something else to consider? <Possibly "dust"/fine particles from fresh sand in the system?> Thanks, George.   <best, Chris>

The Blackout Blues... I lost power for 23 hours in NYC.  Despite two battery powered air pumps, and regular manual attempts at circulation every half hour, my losses were extensive... most of my corals, all of my fish, and most of my inverts. <Ughhh! I'm terribly sorry to hear this! I hope that you keep your chin up and recover from this disaster> The only survivors are (hopefully) a clam, two damsels (figures), and a few corals which might yet make it, but this may be just wishful thinking. <Here's to hoping> Loosing the fish hurts, they had all been in the tank since I added fish (1year ago), but loosing the corals, which were all grown from captive frags, is PAINFUL. <Yes it is, but I guess the only "comfort" that you can take from this is to consider that they were not wild-collected colonies, and as such, had no impact on wild populations...> Especially given that I had thought many times about preparing for a power outage and never did.  I'm not sure how I could have been so patient, so diligent and thoughtful about how I created, and responded to the many stages of life over the past two years in this tank, and ignored the eventuality of a power outage. <Be easy on yourself, my friend! Nobody is perfect...And, this can always serve as a (painful) learning experience..> A starfish, which despite my best attempt at a slow acclimation, was my only loss before yesterday. <Grr...> The only positive thing I can say, is that before today, I had no idea how successful my sand bed was. There were thousands of pods, worms and others., (now mostly dead) on top of the sand bed. I live on the top floor of my building. Now I'm going to figure out how to install a generator on the roof!  What a painful lesson.  My questions:  This is a 130g tank.  I have so far been able to find and remove several of the fish and larger inverts, however, I know that the following are somewhere in the rocks: (all small, 1+ yrs old) Kole tang, six line, 4x Anthias.  Should I tear the rockwork apart and try to find each and every one, or should I just stick with daily water changes over the next week. <I'd do the water changes, and avoid causing the fishes any additional stress as a result of your "digging around" in the tank> I'm afraid if I tear up the rocks, that I will ensure that the few corals which might have a chance, would be further stressed. <I'd be inclined to agree> At the same time I don't want to kill them with poor water quality.  Which is the lesser of two evils? <When in doubt, execute the water changes> Also, several corals have already bleached badly, but several still show signs of life.  Should I leave these and watch them, or do they pose a threat? Thanks in advance. Michael <I'd try to salvage what you can...Frag the remaining living sections, and reattach them to rocks, etc. It's worth a shot. Try to keep your water quality as high as possible while you get things back to normal. I'm sure that a lot of our readers' hearts go out to you and your fellow East Coast hobbyists during this difficult time. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

That Time of Year... Depressed pH - Well-insulated Houses - 8/14/03 Hi, <howdy!> Have been researching the salt mixing process on your site, and have seen reference to buffering the RO water, prior to mixing salt, but could not find more specific details. <it's not rocket science, mate... we use RO or DI to demineralize water for the removal of the good and the bad. Then, simply buffer back with the good to a medium high/hard ALK and pH within the known safe ranges of seawater. Thus ensuring very consistent water every time (versus variable tap water quality)> Currently before mixing the salt, I leave my water to aerate for a day with a heater and powerhead in it, <very good> after which the PH tests at 7.4 prior to mixing the Instant Ocean. <not bad> Should I buffer this water prior to mixing? and if so, could I use my normal buffer, Seachem marine buffer? <yes... just a little would be fine to get closer to 8.0 or so> I am struggling somewhat with low PH in the tank, ranges from 7.9 to 8.2, and wonder if there is something I could be doing better.  Thanking You, Alastair <very common this time of year because of well insulated houses (depressing pH from excess CO2 in the house/water). Confirm this problem by taking a glass of aquarium water outside and aerate it heavily for 6-12 hours. Test pH before and after... there should be no change... but an increase would indicate the above problem. Much has been written on this topic in our archives at wetwebmedia.com if you care to read it. Best regards, Anthony>

Spring Water as Top Off for Evaporation? >Hello to all at WWM: >>We greet you collectively, through me, Marina. >Currently I am using a small fan over my sump in order to keep my water temperature at a reasonable level. Because of this I am losing about one gallon per day....not a big deal in a 110 gal tank.   Here lies my problem......I will be going on vacation next week and was wondering if using bottled spring water was okay to use as top off. >>If you mean something like Sparkletts or other from a "to your door" service, I see no problem with this.  Do test it FIRST, just to be sure there are no nitrate or phosphate readings, since you haven't used it before this time.  Or start using it now, just to see how it works, or go to the grocery store and buy enough RO/DI (my own preference) to ensure they have enough on hand. >I am having one of my neighbors take care of things and he will need to top off the tank and I think it would just be easier if he was able to just open a bottle and pour it in.......not the most cost effective but certainly easy. Just wanted to get your thoughts before I go out and buy seven one gallon bottles of spring water. >>Go with store-bought RO/DI and you and your tank will be golden.  Have a VERY good vacation!  Marina > As always, thank you for you for your most valuable time. Gene

Misguided Advice on How to Use RO Water - 8/10/03 Hi All, Hope all's well, <with hope for you in kind> I wondered if you would mind answering a few questions for me, I have spent the last hour reading FAQ's and am getting a little frazzelled! I have a 36"x12"15" reef tank, set up at the end of last summer, lightly stocked, lots of live rock.  Stats:0 Ammonia, 5 Nitrate, 0 Nitrite. Canister filter, Berlin Skimmer, well aerated, lots of current. <if this is a reef tank... do allow a small amount of nitrates to linger else the corals will starve and/or have poor color. Seek up to 5ppm on your test kit (nitrate-nitrogen).> I have been having a few problems, namely pH fluctuating from 7.83  to 8.31 during the course of the day. <Yiiiiiiikes!!!!!!!!!!> (Big mistake buying a digi meter!) Alkalinity is 12 DKH, Calcium 380. As well as we have been having a bit of a heat wave over here and the tank temp has also been moving 4-5 degrees over the day!!. <ughhh!> (Too smaller tank that is the result of not doing enough research and listening to the guy in my local fish store) <understood> I tried to rectify the pH swings apart from making no difference I managed to raise the alkalinity up to about 25+..! .brains!!..have none!! <staggering <G>> Needless to say my corals are not looking healthy. <glad to hear some are still living <G>> Mushroom coral shriveled, Mushroom Anemone very closed . Xenia closed, Pulse Xenia, ..not pulsing and looking decidedly grey!. Fish seem fine!! phew! After a few major water changes, things seem to be settling down although I fear might lose some corals. <you are on the right track... large water changes to bring you back to par> Anyway now for the good news!!  After finally realizing I will never have a stable 3ft tank I have purchased today a 48"x12"15 tank and am in the process of setting it up and trying to remember all the things I should of done when I first set my tank up last year! I have had the tank drilled I plan to use the three foot as a sump, with maybe an overflow type filter system, in combination with the canister filter,, not too sure yet. Hopefully at the end of it I will have a more stable system! , fingers crossed. (any suggestions ) <hmmm... the larger tank is nice, but it really is not so much bigger as to correct your water chemistry problems... that is a matter of husbandry> Anyway the question really is your opinion on the pH fluctuating. I do 10% water changes weekly...using RO <hmmm... hoping the RO water is first heavily aerated (24+ hours to raise the pH and drive off carbonic acid/CO2) then re-mineralized (buffered) and mixed (12+ hours) and only then considered for use as evap top-off or salted for seawater). Else you have a source of your pH instability (weakly buffered source water)> I am in two minds whether to continue using it. My LFS has there pH at 7.8 using RO and there corals seem fine, perhaps larger more stable system?. <7.8 is irresponsible IMO for reef inverts. Seek a proper 8.3-8.6 soundly.> However I went to another LFS store and they have the most stunning reef tank, around 6 foot, by 3 by 5, and they use ordinary dechlorinated tap water? I could not believe it. <not surprising... the matter is not RO vs. tap water... it is simply about using stable and quality source water. For some folks, that is right from the tap... for others the reconstituted RO water is necessary> All they have is a large skimmer and a trickle filter Am I missing something here , I fear I am. <the trickle is no help (unless there is a huge fish load) and in most cases is a harm (excess nitrate contributions). One or two good skimmers on the tank is crucial for most systems though IMO> I have also been told that continually using RO water, could lead to a collapse in the pH?, <you are being advised by folks that have no concept of the dynamics of water chemistry. Properly handled RO or DI water (back to aerated, buffered and measured before use) is a tremendous boon to reef-keeping. It offers very stable and consistent source water (of known comp).. unlike the best tap water which fluctuates seasonally if not weekly> and that I really should use 2/3 RO and 1/3 tap water, what is your opinion? <get better local advice <VBG>. Ha!> Anyway sorry for the waffle I am sure I will have some more questions for you buy the end of the weekend! <really no worries at all. You will do fine being so inquisitive... keep reading/learning my friend> Cheers for you help Rob. UK <with kind regards, Anthony>

Cloudy Water-Clear Solution? Dear piscatorial guardians: <Wow- Cool title! You can just call me Scott, however!> I am baffled with the abovementioned subject. I've done everything to the best of my knowledge/experience but am still having problems with hazy waters. I installed the AquaC Remora per your recommendation last week and the very next day, the water looked crisp. Then after a few days, the haziness seems to return. I also had this problem prior to installing the skimmer thinking that it was excess DOC's but that should not be the case anymore as the skimmer is producing a healthy (euphemism here :) ) amount of skimmate daily. <The good skimmate production is important- at least you're removing much of the dissolved organics present in the water> HARDWARE: 1. 46G Oceanic bowfront F.O. tank - 4 months old 2. Rio 1700 powerhead - 611GPH 3. AquaC Remora w/Rio 800 4. Hang-over the back Power-Filter w/activated carbon - dual spillway <Do change the carbon regularly> 5. 200 Watt Titanium heater LIVESTOCK: 1. Chrysiptera cyanea - pair 2. Chrysiptera hemicyanea 3. Rhinecanthus aculeatus 4. Canthigaster Solandri 5. Cirrhitichthys falco 6. Sphaeramia nematoptera - pair 7. Hermit Crabs (unknown sp.) - 3" pair WATER: 1. pH 8.0 - 8.2 2. SPG 1.023 3. NH4 - 0 4. N03 - 0 5. N04 - 5 ppm 6. TEMP - 80-82 F 7. RO/DI water 8. Instant Ocean Salt <Your water parameters seem in line!> OTHER: 1. 2" Carib Sea Aragonite 2. Various dead coral e.g. Blue Ridge, Cats Paw, Sea Fan for decor. 3. Food - SF Bay Brine shrimp w/Zoecon (weekly soak), OSI Marine Flakes, Hikari Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp, chopped shrimp/scallop (occasionally) 4. Photoperiod - 6 hours I was repeatedly told of a putative bacteria bloom but no reason as to why it occurs. And it can be happening sporadically can it? I've also tried adding Kent's Pro-Clear but to no avail, so it's not any macro free-floating organics. <You mean "micro organics"?> Is this problem indelible? If I could only locate it's provenance... Please advice and thanks in advance.  BC <Well, I'm thinking that it could be anything from a bloom of free-floating algae to some very fine particulate stirred up by your trigger or your puffer...Could even be microbubbles getting in somewhere through the plumbing. It seems to me that your water parameters are fine, and the skimmer is doing it's job. I'd consider a few possible "solutions". The first would be to utilize a "micron filter sock" or pad somewhere in the system to remove some of this fine particulate. The other thought (and unfortunately, it's more expensive) would be to incorporate a U/V sterilizer in your system's plumbing configuration...Check all possibilities and don't give up...Regards, Scott F>

Cloudy water Yes it is cycled. <good> Its been running since December of 2002. This cloudy water came about the last time I changed the water which was 3 weeks ago.<you should perform a small water change every week> Since that day its been cloudy. The only thing I did was rinse the filter and put it back in.<I would have just replaced it, this could be the source of the cloudy water> And I changed the white diamond the remove ammonia. then last week I put a new carbon filter in because I thought this would clear it up. BUT NOTHING. Will do the 30% water change.<ok good-tell me if it works, IanB> Water change Would it be better if I did a 50% water change?<you could but I would be very careful when doing this. it can be very stressful on the fish> What would happen if I changed out ALL the water? Would my fish be ok?<no they would not, I don't advise it, IanB>

Cloudy water OK the cloudy water is whitish/grayish and seems to be getting worse.. What should I do?/ WATER CHANGE? HOW MUCH? <could be a bacteria bloom...Is your aquarium cycled yet? I would perform a 30% water change every other day until the cloudy water clears up. Also you might try cleaning your filter cartridge (sometimes they get backed up with stuff) Good Luck, IanB>

Ongoing water quality issues SORRY TO BE A PAIN... But again I want to stress how this happened after my last water change... MY TANK WAS CRYSTAL CLEAR before my last water change. Then when I did the change (15%) it got cloudy like it usually does after a water change.. Except it usually get clear within a few hours. This time it didn't. Its been cloudy ever since. I STAND IT. Im literally disgusted at looking at my aquarium and that's not what its there for. I have expensive fish in there too that have been in there since FEB. PLEASE HELP ME.. WHAT Did I do wrong? I haven't change anything I've been doing over the past months yet this happened for some reason outta nowhere <I would replace the filter cartridges and I would continue to do water changes...these are pretty much the only 2 things you can do to make the water clear up. have patience my friend, IanB>

-Cloudy reef tank- Hello Big Kahuna's of the reef world, <Greetings! Kevin here> Thank you in advance for all the help you have provided in the past.  I read a lot of previous articles related to cloudy water, but none with my dilemma. <Yes, cloudy water in reef aquaria with no obvious answer is very uncommon> I have a 60 gallon reef tank.  Established for about 8 months.  50lbs live rock.  CPR skimmer (hang on).  CPR refugium (with 24 hour lighting) with a good quantity of healthy Caulerpa.  Compact lights under the canopy.  All I have for fish is a yellow Tang, and 2 Percula's.  My fish look very healthy, along with my Frogspawn, Colt Coral, Xenia's, and Star Polyps.  All continue to look very healthy, and vibrant.  About 3 weeks ago we had a heat wave in San Diego, my tank reached about 84 degrees for a couple of days.  Since then, I now have hooked up fans in my canopy, and I rotate frozen 2 liter bottles of RO water to keep the temp. down. <Excellent, temperature control during the summer is imperative!> The problem since then is my water hasn't been that crystal clear water I used to have.  The LFS suggested that the heat had killed off my de-nitrifying bacteria in my refugium, or system. <Doubtful> They suggested the addition of "Tropical Science NITROMAX" along with a 10% water change.  I did this daily for a week, still no results.  Is this when I am told to "wait it out." <You may be experiencing a bacterial bloom, maybe even greenwater.> I also hooked up my old Eheim canister with some floss, and Chemipure.  I have noticed a build up of some red algae, (Cyanobacteria...I think), in my refugium, and a few small spots on the rocks.  Other than that I have no diatomic algae blooming.  I noticed that the diatom algae started to disappear about 2 months ago with the use of RO water.  I have noticed some bacteria (microscopic bugs) starting to grow again in my refugium.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <I would perform a 25% water change, cease adding the Nitromax stuff, then "wait it out". If it is a bacterial bloom it will crash itself out on its own, there's not much you can do about it! Test your ammonia, pH, and nitrite levels and make sure that they are in check. It is possible that sand bed critters have died and are rotting (eek!) in your refugium, nothing simple ammonia and nitrite tests wouldn't tell ya. Good luck! -Kevin> You guys are the best, Chris

- A Couple of Questions - hey guys... several questions I have for you all.. First of all I want to know if you have any idea why my water is KINDA cloudy... It was always CRYSTAL CLEAR. Like its not that bad right now but I mean I was just so used to it being SUPER CLEAR. I have an Aqua C protein skimmer and Emperor 400 filter. I do my water changes regularly. What can make the water like this? <Depends on the nature of the haziness... sometimes is organics in the water, sometimes it can be calcium precipitation, sometimes it's just substrate stirred up by the fish - many possibilities.> And what can I do to fix it? <Run some activated carbon in your filtration loop for starters... also look at your supplement regimen, you may be adding too much of something which you haven't mentioned here.> I changed the filter cart. in my filter already. I don't overfeed. Next question is: My emperor angel fish has ONE spot of ick on his rear fin and one TINY SPEC on his right fin. He's had those and only those for 1 week. NOT getting worse but not getting better. Today though I noticed that his rear fin was missing a piece. Like not bitten off or anything it was just missing a strait line almost in the middle of the fin? ARE ALL THESE THINGS SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT?? <Not entirely. A spot or two on one fin or another is not a big deal and fairly normal. A split fin is also not really a big worry, but you should still keep up your observations to make sure either problem doesn't get any worse.> Or do I just let it be and see what happens? He eats Great EVERYDAY swims just like ALWAYS and no scratching or darting. NOTHING.. Behavior is still 100% normal. Ok next question is about my powder blue tang that I just got on Tues day. HE developed a white PIMPLE looking think close to one of his eyes. Other than that he is PERFECT. That pimple thing sometimes is real noticeable and sometimes isn't. Behavior is also VERY normal. Eyes are fine, no ick, eats a lot, and swims a lot.. Do u know what it is? <Could be a bunch of different things... again, I would keep this under observation for the moment. As an aside, I'm guessing that you've not been quarantining these fish which means every time you introduce a new fish you run the risk of infecting your entire tank with the parasites the new fish brings in. In the case of the Powder Blue Tang, you have a very disease-prone fish which needs to be quarantined. Now that it's in the main tank, the deed is done, so keep your eyes on everyone. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm Additionally, you didn't mention your tank size, but I'm concerned that you've got two fish that grow large enough to warrant a 200g plus system... do you have a tank this size in your future? If not, your fish will suffer from over crowding and other social issues.> Do I need to do something about it? <Quarantine... if you don't already have a separate tank for this purpose, you should get one. You may need it soon.> Ok and last but not least my clownfish has had like THIS weird cotton looking piece on the side of his body since like march. IT NEVER WENT AWAY. I thought maybe a fish bit him or something but I don't know. Whatever it is its been there forever and yet the fish is ok... any idea what this is? It looks like pink cotton just sticking out of his body. <Is probably Lymphocystis, which tends to go away on its own.> Thanks in advance for ALLLLL YOUR HELP. You guys are great. <Cheers, J -- > Water Quality Info  7/25/03 my husband just set up a tank a couple of nights and go and we recently purchased 1 copper banded butterflyfish, 1 cleaner wrasse, and one Picasso triggerfish.<WHOA!!!  Did you cycle the tank??  It must go through a 4-6 week cycle time.  There should be NO fish in the tank at this time!!> We read in some books the different levels of nitrate and temperatures of what these fishes should be but they all seem to very a lot differently.<That's odd...> I was wondering if you can inform me of what a healthy level of nitrate would be and also the temperature.<Nitrate should be 0.  Temperature should be between 76-78 degrees F.>   Also if there is anything else we should be considering paying attention about with the water quality.<Make sure you have a good test kit!  Test the water once a week IMO.  Keep the nitrates/nitrites down, pH between 8.2-8.4, and you should be doing ok.  Please read more on WWM about cycling and water quality.> Thank you, Jennie<No problem!  Phil> Cloudy/Hazy waters 07/23/03 Dear crew: How are ya'll doing? <Ok on this hot July, though not as hot as where you are. PF here with you today> I am having a little trouble with hazy waters. I have a 4 month old F.O. 46 G Oceanic bowfront that clouds up from time to time, especially after a day of water change. I've tried Pro-clear, it worked for a while but the haze returned. And that does not work anymore. Hardware: -------------- 1. Hang-on-back filter - activated carbon inside cartridge 2. Titanium heater 3. Rio powerhead, 1 X 600+gph, 1 X 200+ gph on opposing side 4. Standard aquarium lights - 25 watts Water params: -------------------- pH = 8.2 NH4 = 0 - 0.25 ppm (though to read the charts so I am taking the middle ground. Three different opinions , from 0 - 0.25 to 0.5) Although I can't imagine having ammonia with my water change regiment. N04 = 5-10 ppm N03 = 0 ppm Spg = 1.023 Temp = 80 - 84F Water changes = 5G/week Livestock: -------------- 1 Maroon clown - 3" 1 pair PJ cardinals - 2 " 1 pair Blue Damsels  - 1.5" 1 Falco hawk - 2 " 1 Yellow-belly damsel 1.5" 4 Hermit Crabs Other: --------- Salt - Instant Ocean 2" Carib Sea Aragonite Dead corals for decor Food: OSI Marine Flakes, SF Bay Brine shrimps/Zoecon soaked, chopped shrimp and Hikari Freeze Dried Brine shrimp - mixed feedings - twice per day. Photoperiod - I am trying out all sorts of time frames, from 0, 4 and 8. No algae, diatom problems. I did not clean/replace filter media this time round. Could it be a bacteria bloom or is it just my sub-par filter? I am now thinking of getting the HOT Magnum canister filter. I've also used Poly bio-marine filter pads in the past but it didn't help. The cloudiness is sporadic. If it was my water (which might have contained metals et. al), then Pro-clear should've taken care of it. And I cannot imagine a bacterial bloom happening every now and then. Also, I used regular tap water which is aged about 1 week and de-chlorinated/de-chloraminated. I am switching to RO/DI this week onward. Please advice. Should I start a massive water change (with the RO/DI water), coupled with the new canister filter or sit this one thru and wait for the supposed/possible bloom to subside? Another question on a different topic - I purchased a couple of dead red sea fans. Have painted them with Krylon child-safe paints. They have been cured for 3 days (w/ Dallas 103F temp :) ) and soaked in water for one day now. Are those paints fish-safe too? Thanks in advance. Best, BC <Well, BC, the cloudy water may be do to changes in your municipal system. During summer a lot of municipalities really start dumping the chlorine/chloramines in because the wells are running shallow. Using RO/DI should take care of it if that's the problem. It could also be a bacterial bloom. I didn't see mention of a skimmer or of LR in your tank. Both would really help your water quality, as would increasing the depth of your sand bed to 4". Right now, your 2" bed isn't doing much, if anything as a denitrifier. For a skimmer, I heartily recommend the AquaC Remora, as many of my fellow Q&A people have as well. I have some reading assignments for your: www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm As for the red sea fans, I'd have to no, don't chance it. Besides, I think live rock looks a lot nicer, and it's much, much more functional. Have a good day, PF>

RE: Cloudy/Hazy waters  07/23/03 Dear PF: <Hello again BC> Thanks for the prompt reply. <We aim to please.> ...albeit a little confusing. <my apologies> I understand that municipalities increase chloramine use during the hot months but my water has been treated with anti-chloramine/chlorine and has aged for 1 week. Wouldn't that suffice in ridding the unwanted chemicals/dissolved metals/gasses et. al? And I am referring/quoting to the article on "Treating tap/source water for Marine Aquarium Use". <Well it should, but then again, the changes in their water treatment could add a lot more contaminants.> Regardless, I've moved to RO/DI water as off yesterday and I concur with you on the AquaC Remora, LR and DSB. I guess I could dump an extra 2" layer of live sand over my aragonite. <Do be sure and do it slowly, a 1/2" a week at most. That gives your animals time to dig out.> Question is, how much more can/will the AquaC unit do, in addition to my new water change regimen of 5% twice a week (Instant Ocean + RO/DI water), as suggested by one of the WWM crew members, and dubbed as THE best WC regiment?  I really want to know the answer before investing another $158 on my tank...despite my alacrity as soon as you mentioned AquaC and skimmers. <Well, I understand your desire not to spend unnecessarily, but my AquaC pulls out a nasty, green goo, and I hate to think of that in my tank. I used to not use a skimmer, but I gave one a try. The vast improvements in my water quality convinced me to upgrade the one I had.> As for the LR, I will be slowly adding cured rocks, piece by piece, not forgetting the extra layer of LS. <Sounds good.> With regards to the kid-safe paint, Mr. Fenner did mention in one of the FAQ's that it was ok as long as it was latex, epoxy or child-safe with no anti-fouling agents. What are your thoughts?  Have you had a bad experience? <Well, I'm just leery of paint on general principal, as well as artificial decorations (and dead coral falls into that category for me). If you're comfortable with it, go ahead. This is just my gut instinct, I don't trust it.> Please advice and thanks in advance.  BC PS: As of this morning, my water clarity has improved. <Good, glad to hear. Hope this clears things up, PF>

- Cloudy Marine Tank - I have a 55 gal saltwater tank. It's been set up for about 5 months. The  water stays cloudy and I don't know  why. Please help! <Could be a bacterial bloom, greenwater, particulate cloud, who knows. Impossible to say without a description of the cloud, a full range of water tests, some tank history, and a list of things that you do to the tank. -Kevin>

Magnesium Sulfate 7/10/03 Hello All, <cheers> I have been considering using magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) as a source of magnesium for my reef tank. My concern about this is the effects of the leftover sulfate on my system. Your comments/suggestions are appreciated. Thank you, Richard <It's an extremely common component of aquarium products... not the least of which is your sea salt. Most dry pellet foods also have some magnesium sulfate in them to prevent blockage/constipation in gluttonous fishes. I can't say that I've used it for supplementing a reef deliberately, but I suspect magnesium chloride is safer/better. All are cheap enough. Kind regards, Anthony>

RO product water = 4.0 ppm P04!!!!!!!!!!! Hey Guys! I've been having some problems w/ phosphate levels the past 3 months.  I was reviewing your site today (awesome information, by the way) and realized that my problem may be the water source. <Ta da!> I bought a RO unit about the same time my problem started.  After testing the water from the unit, sure enough, the PO4 levels straight out of the unit are at 4 ppm! <Insert gagging face here> I immediately went to an on-line aquatics supply store, they had a ton of replacement filters, but nothing specifically for PO4 removal.  I had no idea what to get.  So my question is twofold: 1) can I even buy a replacement RO filter that will remove phosphate, and 2) if so, do you know which one I should purchase?   I spent too much on that dang thing, not to be able to use it!   <Are you sure you're using a reverse osmosis unit? With even the cheapest R/O unit you should have undetectable levels of phosphate in the product water. Your unit should have a sediment filter and carbon block before the membrane. It would also be a good idea to purchase a post deionizer for the product water of the RO. If you care to send me the specs of your unit, I'd be happy to make specific recommendations. -Kevin> Your help would be greatly appreciated. Mike

Don't drink the yellow water... <Hi Shane, PF with you tonight> Over night my coral/fish tank went real cloudy it was kind of yellowish. I upon noticing it ran every test I have and all par are good. I have a VERY healthy Colt Coral, a gorgonian coral, some Green star polyps, and waiving hands coral. My LFS thinks one of them may have spawned last night. Do you agree with this? Do any of these guys spawn? I did a 15% water change and checked all my filters and everything looks fine just cloudy. No odors either. All of my fish, snails and coral look fine. I am just real worried because I leave for Korea on Tuesday for 2 weeks and my wife knows nothing about the tank so I want to remedy this before I leave. Just so you know I have 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 skunk cleaner, 1 banded coral shrimp, several hermits, turbo snails, 1 melas angel, 1 Coral Beauty, 1 Black Percula clown, 1 Maroon Clown, a flame scallop and a Tridacna maxima as well as the above coral. Also I have some live rock. The tank is almost a year old. Any help would be very appreciated. <Well Shane, sorry for the delay, allergy season has come with a vengeance to my part of the world, and I wasn't much use to anyone yesterday, myself included. Yes, it's possible one of them spawned, which would be a pretty good achievement in captivity. I'd recommend doing a 30% water change. I didn't see a skimmer mentioned, I do hope you are using one. It's hard to answer your question without knowing more about your setup - size, types of filters, lbs. of LR, depth of sandbed, etc. If you're not using a skimmer, I'd advise getting one now, if not sooner.> Thanks in advance, Shane <You're welcome, have a good trip, PF>

Water Quality And Chemical Filtration Media Dear Scott, <Hello there!> Is brown algae on the glass a nuisance algae indirectly implying that high nitrates and phosphates rare present? <Well, it is implying that there is some type of nutrient in the water that is fueling its growth. Usually, the culprit turns out to be silicate, often found in source water. Of course, sometimes it can be a number of other substances, too- like the phosphates and nitrates that you mentioned. The importance of quality source water, good husbandry practices, and aggressive use of protein skimming and chemical filtration media cannot be stressed enough, IMO!> I was recommended by many LFS the product "Chemipure" which claims a "5 year no water change". I would like your opinion about the effectiveness about the product and its claims. I was told it would remove any excess nitrates and phosphates + other bad organics in the water. <Chemipure is good stuff, IMO, and will remove many organics from the water. It will not, however (nor will ANY media, filter, or setup technique) eliminate the need for water changes! I cringe when I see that claim by Chemipure. I wonder what the tank looked like in year six? Just because one, or even 150 people, got lucky and didn't change their water for 5 years and spawned their clownfish repeatedly doesn't mean that you should do this! I mean, there is someone out there who drank a pint of Jose Cuervo and scarffed down two dozen jelly donuts one night, and his Flame Angels spawned the next day! Does that make it okay to do that to get your Flame Angels to spawn? Nope! Never forget that we are talking about closed systems which rely on our dedication, effort, and  careful observations for the healthy long-term maintenance of our animals. Change that water regularly!> I have been adding vitamins to keep my fish strong and was worried whether it might remove the vitamins as well. <Well, it very well might. However, if you are making those regular water changes, you will be replenishing the naturally occurring vitamins and trace elements in the water regularly. Frankly, I think that regular, frequent water changes can eliminate the need for many additives that we use in our tanks. By the way, I use products like Vita Chem regularly-=but I mix it with the fishes' foods...A better way to get them their vitamins, IMO.> I was puzzled with your reply that the new fish should be smaller. I thought it needed to be bigger so as to be able to ward off the initial aggressiveness of the existing fish? <You're right- this is a rather unorthodox approach...But it has worked well for me in the past. My experience shows that the larger fish sees the smaller "new guy" as less of a potential threat, and that, despite some initial skirmishes, the social order within the tank will settle down more quickly. My apologies to you for not mentioning this the first time, and for not clarifying that this is based on MY experience. Kind of irresponsible on my part! Just because it has worked for me does not mean that it will work for you! Take any advice with a grain of salt, and use it only if it makes sense for YOU!> Thank U once again  :) <Any time! Regards, Scott F>

Calcium And Alkalinity and pH And.... This is my tank -90 bow front FOWLR (170lbs) - 28 Inches tall -15 gallon sump -650 gph flow through sump -4 maxi-jet 1200 -1/2 inches "Florida crushed coral substrate" -Aqua C 180 EV skimmer with mag drive 5 pump -2-65 watt 10 K full spectrum PC 12 hrs per day -2-65 watt 03 actinic blue 14 hrs per day -2-300 watt heaters -2 bags of carbon (app 1 cup each) replaced alternately once per month -1 piece of square shaped block filter in the sump dam used to filter the water before it is returned to the aquarium (keeps bubbles down in the display tank) This is cleaned once per week water parameters -ammonia - 0 -nitrite - 0 -nitrate - undetectable -temp - 80-82 -s.g. - 1.024 -RO water for everything Inhabitants -3 true tank raised clowns about one and a half inches long (bought together, unsexed, very healthy, lively, playful, hungry- I think I know which one will eventually be the female) -3 small feather dusters which are growing about 1/4 inch per week (got free with LR) -1mushroom which gets really big during the day (also got free with LR) -1 - 4 inch regal tang Questions regarding calcium and alkalinity -I have read all of the FAQs on calcium and alkalinity and I am unsure of a few things. -I dose 1 teaspoon of kalk every morning before lights turn on.  This raises my ph from 8.30 - 8.48.  Is this too much of a jump? <I accept a two tenths of a point fluctuation is okay. That's about as much as I'd want at one time...> I also dose SeaChem buffer every second day (2 teaspoons) alternating with SeaChem ReefBuilder calcium also every second day (2 teaspoons).  The ph doesn't seem to fluctuate too much during the day.  The other night it was 8.24 at lights out, and then the next morning before lights on it was 8.32.  I don't know why, I didn't add anything. <The pH will fluctuate between day and night> Calcium is slowly being raised, now at 320 ppm. Alkalinity is at 4.0 meq/l.  Can I add kalk once in the morning and once at night?  Say, 1 teaspoon in the AM and 1/2 a teaspoon in the PM?   <Really, the best time to add the kalkwasser is after the lights are off> This would save money compared to adding SeaChem calcium.   I have read up on calcium reactors.  Some people say they are the way to go. <Well, they make the process of maintaining stable alkalinity and reasonable calcium levels a simple one. I think that, if properly added and tested for, the addition of kalkwasser works fine, too> But for a tank that is basically going to be fish only for the next 2 years is it actually a worthwhile investment? <If you're going with a FOWLR system, I'd rather spend the same $$ on a killer protein skimmer and lots of salt mix for making regular water changes.> It seems that kalk is the least expensive way to dose calcium.  I highly value your detailed opinion on this subject <Well, as stated above, I like the kalkwasser dosing method, myself. Once you set the parameters, it's soo easy. See Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" for the details on the "kalk slurry" method of Kalkwasser dosing...Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Dust In The...Tank? (Particulate In Water Column) Hi there, <Hey! Scott F. with you today> I'm at my wits end trying to deal with what appears to be a case of saltwater ick. <Not fun stuff...But it's certainly curable!> I have a 180 gal fish only tank that has been set up for about 6 months (before that I had a smaller tank for several years).  It has 3 angelfish (all less than 3") a Clown Trigger (6-7") a blue tang and a couple of gobies.  It has a 57w U.V. filter and turns the water over about 6-7 times per hour (1,200 - 1,400 gph flow rate). About 5 weeks ago I notice what I thought was some ick (small "snow flakes" in the water and a few of them on the fish). <May be ich on the fish, but it's unlikely that you can see the parasites in the water column...Probably some form of detritus or flocculate material in the water instead> I went the LFS and they gave me a bottle of "Quick Cure" (formalin & malachite green). <Can be a curse or a cure, depending on how it's used...If dosed improperly, it can kill your fish. Use only as directed. I favor copper sulphate as an ich medication. Of course, you also have to dose this stuff with caution, but it's pretty easy to use, IMO> They also told me that a lot of their customers were having ich problems and that they are common at this time of year (I live in Chicago, and the temperature fluctuates quite a bit this time of year -- although it stays within 3 degrees in the tank). <Well, thermal stress, and other forms of stress can certainly lead to illness. It may not take that big a fluctuation to induce such stress...There are a lot of factors that can lead to ich...> I removed the carbon from the filter, and used the quick cure as recommended daily for two weeks. It did not seem to help much.  During that time the ick remained, and the eyes on a couple of the fish (especially the trigger) got very cloudy. I went back to the LFS and they suggested I try Cupramine (copper) in conjunction with the Quick Cure for two more weeks. <I wouldn't combine medications, if it were me. One or the other- and I'd go with the Cupramine> The two weeks ended last weekend.  At this point, the fish look better, but the water still has a lot of the white flakes in it. <I'd try using one of those "micron" filter socks that you can get at the LFS to help filter this stuff out...> Yesterday I did an extensive clean of the tank (cleaned the filters, the walls, and vacuumed the gravel) and put the carbon back in the canister filter.  The tank still has a lot of the white flakes in it (it looks kind of like one of those snow filled paper weights). <Wow- I wonder what this stuff is...Some sort of precipitate, maybe? Have you been (over) dosing kalkwasser...? Maybe overfeeding? review all husbandry techniques, and see what the source of this stuff could be.> The fish appear to be o.k. (and do not have any flakes on them), although their appetite is not what it normally is (especially the trigger). <Good to hear that. A fish that eats is a fish that lives! In the future, don't medicate in the display tank, too.. (I think that you were?). It's not a good idea, in the long run, for a variety of reasons> Also, when vacuuming the gravel I found a brown worm (or worm like creature) that was about 1/4 inch thick and 2-3 inches long.  Any idea what it might be, how it got there, and if it is related to the "ick" problem? <Nope. Probably a some kind of bristle worm or other benthic worm. These creatures are analogous to terrestrial earthworms, as far as I'm concerned...Nothing to be overly concerned about...> Do you have any idea how to get rid of the flakes?  Are they ich, or is it possible it is something else?  Thanks for your help. Rob Stein <I'd try fine filtering media, as outlined before. Also, look for the source...See what could be causing the material to appear,  and take what corrective actions you can. Look beyond the obvious! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>  

Overdosing??? Hi, <Hi Ronnie, PF here this AM> I am having chemical problems with my tank. It is a long story so I will just ask my questions. Let me first say, I almost have it under control. tank is 75gal. only inhabitant is Gymnothorax funebris <Are you aware that these eels can reach 6' in length? Such animals are best kept in public aquariums where they have the space for such an animal.> Ok, my first question is in regard to overdosing on certain chemicals to try and help stabilize the water. Can I overdose the tank on     1. Stresszyme     2. Ammo-lock 2     3. Proquatics water conditioner     4. Proclear by Kent <Not that I know of> I have been adding one dose per day of each after a 25% water change (tank is 75gal.). <That looks like overkill to me.> once the tank is stable I am going to do another 25% water change. Water is still a little cloudy. ph 8.0 nitrite 10ppm nitrate 200ppm ammonia 8ppm (should not be toxic) temp. 77 salinity 1.024 I lost my biological filter due to medicating. <I see. IMO, you should remove the eel to a QT tank and keep it there till your tank has re-established the biological filter. Time is what is going to cure this, not chemicals. Do consider finding a new home for your eel, one more appropriate (IMO a 500g tank at home is too small. There are many other members of the family Muraenidae that would make much better pets. Do look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/morays.htm, and consider getting Scott Michaels Reef Fishes Vol. 1 - it has an extensive section on moral eels. > I know I shouldn't have medicated the main tank. I am still a rookie. <We all make mistakes, the key is learning from them. Then you can make all new mistakes. ;) > Ok, second question how long does each dose (Stresszyme, ammo-lock2, etc...) last? <I would assume until the chemical agents are all bound. Sorry, I'm not a biochemist, that's the best answer I can give.> Last question, if I run the protein skimmer will it pull all these (Stresszyme, ammo-lock2, etc...) out of the water? <I would think so, but after they have been bound to the polluting agents. At this point, you need to treat your tank as though it was a brand new setup, and let it cure as you would live rock. For the sake of the animal, please remove it.> Thanks, Ronnie <Your welcome Ronnie, I hope I've helped. Remember to thoroughly research any future purchases you make, and good luck. PF> New Jersey

Cloudy Water Ok here goes. I have a 55 gallons saltwater tank. Fluval 304, two power heads, sea clone skimmer and a disconnected under gravel filter holding up about a ? inch of crushed coral gravel. I have been gone for a few month (six) and the tank received very little maintenance and water changes. The fish are alive tomato clown, royal gramma, blue damsel and yellow tang. But brown algae has taken over the tang looks terrible and the water is cloudy. I tested the water ammonia and nitrites are 0, but nitrates are way high like 140? I've been doing 15 gal water changes every two weeks now for about two months.  I took all the coral out and washed it off and vacuumed the bottom gravel thoroughly. The nitrates are still high and the water is still cloudy. I never had a problem with cloudy water before I don't know what to do?  The tang is eating like crazy but not gaining any weight. Clamped fins lost the tissue between the dorsal spines you can see the red blood vessels. Feeding him red and green seaweed sheets soaked in Selcon eats formula two, flakes anything and everything but just won't turn around.  Tanks been up for three years and fish the same. Don't want to loose the tang but think it to late. <Don't give up just yet.> I've always battled the nitrate problem in this tank any advise? Better skimmer? <I'd start doing the 15gal water changes every around every 3 days until the water parameters are back in line. How is your current skimmer performing?  A good skimmer will help a lot. Do you  have any Live rock?  -Gage> Thanks roger

Workin on cloudy water Current skimmer seems ok clean. Got to clean it every couple of days. <when you clean it does it look like brown muck, or green tea?  We are aiming for brown muck.> Sponge seems to get clogged and reduces the flow. Can I add live rock directly into the tank. Cure it first? <Sponge?  Where is the sponge located?  If it is before the skimmer I would get rid of it, you want your skimmer getting raw surface water.  It is nice to keep rock in "QT" for a while while you watch for unwanted critters, if you are curing it yourself you can do this while it cures.  If you are certain it is cured it would be ok to add it straight to the tank. -Gage>

Water Quality Scott F. <Hello again!> First let me thank you for your quick responses to my questions. <My pleasure- hope you found it helpful!> With respect to working the skimmer hard, I have a euro-reef skimmer w/sedra 3500 pump. This does not have a air flow adjust. I guess it gets the full airflow all the time. <Yep, but you can adjust the water level to get more dry foam> Today my salinity was a little high 1.025, is this tolerable? <Actually, I think 1.025 is a good target specific gravity> You had mentioned a med. called Maracyn, I bought it today. Hope it helps. Do I need to stop the protein skimmer, air bubbles and venturi power head (lots of bubbles) while medicating? <Woahh! Never administer medication in your display tank! Medication is best administered in a dedicated hospital tank, where it will not cause problems, bind with decor, etc> Will the water get a little cloudy with this Maracyn? <It can- but not worth worrying about> I also bought a alkalinity test and my alk. tests is high,  7.2+meq or 360+ppm,  what can I do for that? <Alk will probably decrease a bit with time, and with top offs, etc...continue monitoring> I went to the pet store and the only thing they had was a alk. & ph booster. I need a buffer right? What would I be looking for? <Just perform regular water changes and top off with quality source water...I'd rather not mess with additives, etc just yet...let nature help out a bit for a while...> One more question, what are all the water levels I need to be checking? Water temp. salinity Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate Alkalinity Calcium?? Oxygen?? <Optional...> Hardness?? (what kinds??) Kh?? Gh?? <If you're so inclined, I'd monitor KH> Iron?? <Not really necessary unless dosing iron, IMO> Copper?? What else?? <I'd measure phosphate regularly...A good indicator of water quality> I will check all if needed. <It's never a bad idea to monitor all basic water chemistry on some kind of regular basis> Remember all I have is a green moray. <Right- but getting in the habit of monitoring water quality parameters is not a bad practice, regardless of what types of animals you're keeping> Thank you Ronnie New Jersey <A pleasure, Ronnie- continued success! Regards, Scott F> P.S. Where are you guys located? <All over the country, actually...We are scattered throughout the USA...and are as close as your keyboard!>

The color of water I have a nano reef at my office and the water always seems very yellow within a few days of a water change.  What could cause that? Ana M. Saavedra <Likely an accumulation of "organics"... easy to do in small volumes. I encourage you to get in the habit of using a small (a few ounces) or activated carbon in your filter flow path (you can buy a small re-useable Dacron filter bag for changing out) and regularly (weekly, biweekly...) changing this with other routine work on the tank. Bob Fenner>

Faulting Foul Food? "Pollution in a Bottle" 3/24/03 Hi again guys Well...I am writing this with head hung low....I have written to you all and have received great info from you concerning problems I've been having with my tank and my corals dying. After all I have asked, it all came down to one very very stupid mistake on my part. Did you know that just because a bottle of invert smorgasbord sits on a unrefrigerated shelf, that it can't continue to do that after you open it. <actually.... even refrigerated, such products have earned the moniker "pollution in a bottle". The bigger surprise for you might be that very few if any corals actually eat such meaty suspensions... most of the product is wasted and simply contributes to nuisance algae. The main problem (among many) is particle size with these bottled algae fertilizers :p> Well it can't and the bottle clearly states that in the instructions. I guess for the last few months I have been polluting my tank as I alternated my feedings of the smorgasbord <pollution yes... toxic, doubtful in small quantities. It was simply degraded> and my plankton (which by the way I do keep in the fridge). <excellent> So from someone who has learned the hard way, please make sure in you continuing great advise that you include the " please read the instructions" notation on anything you put in your tanks. Thanks for all the help Robert <will do, my friend... and let me strongly suggest that you save your money on such bottled food supplements... it is better spent elsewhere (refugia, water changes, etc). Anthony>

Re: ph and dkh Thanks for your help. This is a new system since 1/10/03. I used ro water with ph- 6.0, change water at 8.3 and tank ph this am is 8.4.  I have SeaChem reef builder which I have not used yet. For evaporation I use straight 6.0 ro water. For water changes I use 6.0 ro water and salt mix to bring sg to 1.024. Am I reading you correctly that I do not need to buffer the evap water nor should I buffer the water prior to mixing my change salt water? If not then when do you buffer? I have in 2 months used a total of 10 teaspoons of baking soda, the last being Fri. 3/14 when I added 5 teaspoons. Thanks again <I would stop the baking soda all together. It will lead to ionic problems as it doesn't contain boron, etc. that is needed as well. The baking soda is pushing your pH by adding bi*carbonates* which raises alk. So, you ARE buffering, which is why your pH is 8.4.  Stop bicarbonate, use a good marine buffer or Reef Builder to supplement carbonate alkalinity according to NEED/USE/TEST.  Don't add without testing carbonate alkalinity. Buffer RO/top off to 8.3 if needed after aeration for 12-24 hours. Same for new salt mix but also test alk as well.  Follow label direction on Reef Builder or Seachem Marine Buffer. I suggest you read Anthony's article on WetWebMedia.com about alkalinity and calcium, a great place to start.  Craig>

Tank cycling and testing Hi Don, You won't have to ask me twice to get testing kits!  Maybe I'm kinda weird, but I enjoy that part of the hobby.  However, I need to stop spending money for a while, and think it might be better to wait and get the whole reef test kit when my bank account's had a chance to rest. <Well, you have at least one other who enjoys the chemistry side <G> I understand the money thing, reality sets in every once in a while.> As is, I'll be getting a mini clean-up crew and possibly first fish (clown) this weekend. Plus, I've got a little time, since the clown will be in QT for about a month anyway.    <Kudos to you for using the QT. Do you have any media (sponge, etc> that has been in the main tank to help carry bacteria to the QT tank? If not, then setup the QT now as it will need to cycle as well. If you don't cycle the QT then be prepared to do large water changes daily> I say mini, because I don't want to overdue it for now, and kill a bunch of crabs and snails due to starvation.   The tank doesn't look horrible and I've got a good skimmer in place.  Calcium test kits (and "reef test kits"), are mainly for when you start getting coral and the like anyway, correct? <Calcium is needed by corals, but if you want to promote/sustain the coralline algae on the rock, you will need to maintain calcium. If you follow a regular water change regime, 5% twice weekly or 10% weekly, you should be OK as the water changes will help keep chemistry in balance> If you really recommend getting one now, I will.  You're the expert.  These are just my common sense thoughts. <No need as per above. Tee hee, expert, THAT'S a good one. I am a fellow aquarist that likes to learn and share the knowledge/fellowship. Actually, I am no more than a year or so ahead of you my friend.> Aside from the white stuff, the tank appears completely cycled now. Ammonia=0, NO2=.025 ppm (may even be less, hard to tell), NO3=5 ppm, PH8.0. Alk=9.  BTW- I tested the alkalinity again and it came up 9 this time.  hmmm, I guess I need to try one more and see if I can get some consistent results.  It's been about 2 weeks since I put some fairly well cured rock in. <Ah, I would not go too fast here. You really should get NH3, NO2, NO3 to 0. The carbonate hardness is being 'used up' and natural. This is why water changes are important to balance/raise and keep the parameters constant. BTW 8-12 is considered 'acceptable'> I also kind of wonder if the fine little bits of stuff on the rock may be what I'm seeing in the water.  I figure once the cleanup crew gets to work, I'll find out.  I also cut back on total circ, from 19X tank volume to 16.I replaced a Maxijet 1200 with a 400.  We'll see what happens. Sorry to be so wordy. <No problem. Have you considered that the 'white stuff' may be some kind of little critter from the rock? Maybe potential food for the fish and corals? Think about it.> Thanks for all your help! <My pleasure, Don> Take care, Eric N.

pH woes in QT tank Hey, I bought a 10 gallon tank to use for quarantine and was trying to set it up this weekend so I could pick up a tomato clown. Unfortunately, things didn't go too well. I took about 5 gallons from the display tank and added another 5 or so of premixed salt water. After adding a bit of baking soda to the water I checked the pH which was about 8.1. Since this was a little low, I started adding baking soda. <Did you mix and aerate the new water for 12 - 24 hours? Was this RO/DI water? Baking Soda is only sodium bicarbonate and will throw ionic balance well off. It should kick the pH in the pants, but it sounds like you have some source water acidity/aeration issues that you should resolve before adding anything. Also, unless you are raising the pH of fresh water for dips, use a good balanced marine buffer to raise and maintain pH and carbonate alk. NOT baking soda.> The pH then dropped to below 8.0 (checked with two different test kits) and no matter how much baking soda I added, it wouldn't come back up. <Now completely out of whack, ionically. Try again, aerate for 12-24 hours, and then test pH before adjusting. 8.1 on new water in the AM isn't a problem.> Now there's so much baking soda that the water is really cloudy and still it's reading below 8.0. My question is: I use baking soda to raise the pH in the display tank (a 35gal) and that works fine - what could have gone wrong here? <Stop doing this! Are you adding carbonates and Boron with your baking Soda? If not you are not doing your tank any favors. Use a good balanced marine buffer. Poor ionic balance will come home to roost sooner or later and wreak havoc on your carbonates, pH calcium, etc.> The QT tank has just a heater, a powerhead with filter attachment (cycled in the 35gal) and one piece of PVC pipe. No sand, rock, or other stuff. I'm assuming at this point all I can really do is empty it all out and try again later. <That's what I would do.> Thanks in advance for any suggestion you can give, Derek <Hope this helps, please do test all of your water params, including alkalinity, boron, magnesium to see if this isn't the up front cause being that half of this water is from the main, and that could be part of the problem.  Craig>

Water Quality Hey guys… How is everyone? <Well, I'm peachy.> Thanks for the last advice, you guys are really quick.    <sometimes quicker than others> I'm going through the set up of my tank as we speak.   I got the water balanced and ready about 10 days ago and as soon as the salt dissolved I poured it into my tank. I allowed it to run for few days just to see if my sump in working ok and that the rest of equipment is ok. Well here is my problem few days after I noticed that the water wasn't very clear it seemed like it had some sort of solution in it, which was a little bit cloudy and foggy. I ran the water test and this is what I got: temp 79, pH 8.5, alkalinity normal (it's the only way my test measures it), ammonia <.25, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, phosphates between 0 and .1, calcium seemed high 550mg/l.  Now today I added about 30lbs of live sand and I'm planning to get about 100lbs of LR by the end of the week.  I was just wondering if the foggy water is something I should worry about or is it part of the start up. <During the turbulent times a new tank goes through some cloudiness is normal.> Also my next question is about flying fish express and their clean up crew.  Will it arrive alive? <I have no experience with them, pretty popular though, check some of the message boards for others opinions/experiences.> I live in New York and really never bought live things to come in the mail. (Just little skeptical) also how long after I introduce the LR I should wait before the getting the clean up crew. <I'd wait a few weeks, let the tank cycle.> Well this will be it for today. Thank you very much.   You guys are a standard in this hobby, I've been recommending this site in every chat room I find. <Awesome, let us know if anything else comes up.  Best Regards, Gage> Pavel S.

Poor params, low calcium, etc. Hey!  Help!  I have a 175 reef tank 2 years old.  I have just had an event that has caused me to loose about 9 Acroporas, one Montipora, scads of purple mushrooms and so on ... the tanks parameters (i.e., pH nitrate nitrite nh4 ca alk) as well as the visual appearance were all good. <What are they now? You don't mention alk or magnesium, two keys to correct water params and pH. Also, what type of hydrometer are you using? Check with a glass hydrometer, this could be a big problem...> I had a slight algae problem with Valonia and a brown slime around Christmas but found my skimmer wasn't as efficient as it had been.  I cleaned it up and the problem corrected itself... I didn't do any testing of the above parameters at that time.... around the first of Feb  started to loose one by one the above organisms.. my parameters have gone to shit so to speak ... my pH had been running 8.2 to 8.45 with the appreciate fluctuations daily and it dropped to 7.8 to 8.0 range (I recalibrated the monitor several times), the nitrate nitrite and ammonia levels stayed zero, the specific gravity was in the range it had always been, and my ca level dropped from the 490 to 520 range to the >225 to 250 range.  The phosphate level has been and remains zero (whatever that test means) coincident with these changes I now have a brownish algae that has air bubbles trapped in it that coats all of the live rock, glass the sand etc. <Sounds like Diatom algae from silicates combined with nitrate and or phosphate. Check source water/RO/DI membrane and cartridge and product water quality. Also, with Kalk use, please check magnesium, this could depress pH, calcium, etc. Also check alk.> I have done water exchanges several times a week that has come from a r/o d/I filtered system that has the appreciate salinity and temp to match the tanks... I have added another euro-reef protein skimmer and the problem continues ... interestingly enough I am getting more material out of them than I had... I have changed the way I was adding my kalkwasser to mixing it fresh daily (instead of mixing 14 gal weekly and running it in at night with timed pump) and letting it drip in over 8 hours. I have been adding increasing amounts of the kalkwasser to the drip hoping to improve the parameters but to no avail, the problem persists...I have even gone as far as taking some of the more heavily covered live rock out. <Stop increasing Kalk, add a good quality calcium supplement to get calcium up to 350 minimum. I would suggest something like Seachem Reef Calcium which also contains Magnesium, Strontium, etc. in a balanced proportion. Use as directed, no more than directed, to raise calcium *while* checking supplementing as follows. Alk is very important here, please check and get to between 3.5-5 meq/l (10-12 dKH) and magnesium three times calcium or about 1200-1300. You should be testing these every two weeks minimum!  Best to alternate times/days supplementing calcium and alkalinity/carbonate, mag, strontium, etc. Read labels.> ... the wrasse, clownfish and Sailfin tang continue to eat and remain as active as before ... the turbo snails are definitely off their game as they are falling off the glass and rock on their sides and not getting back up.. <Yep, calcium, alk, magnesium, etc.> The three sea urchins are eating the algae up and getting huge but, they cannot eat enough of the >stuff.. the starfish are churning up the bottom covered with the algae.. but, if I don't get this chemical imbalance corrected I will loose what I have left ... which compared to what I had is very little. Other basic facts.... halide and VHO lights changed 4 months ago. I had 8 powerheads in the tank up till October but all kept wearing the plastic impellers down so often I put one sea swirl on the back wall with downward pointing nozzles this was done just after the crash started. <Increase circulation as much as possible, one Seaswirl for a 175 isn't nearly enough, you need at least 1750 gph and double that would be out of line with sps. Moving water is the enemy of diatom algae.> Chiller is keeping the temp steady in the 76 to 78 range Daily I add ca and alkalinity solutions in the am before the lights come on. <Here we go.... Add calcium and alkalinity supplements on seperate days or at least AM/PM. Please read Anthony's calcium/alkalinity article at WetWebMedia.com. You don't mention alk, but it is either rock bottom with everything else due to neglect, or sky high driving calcium down. Test alk and magnesium ASAP. Raise to nominal levels. Water changes will help here as well.> Iodine gets added once a month <Per testing?> carbon bag in the sump gets changed 2 times a month. <This is good, stay on top of carbon for nitrate production from these filters, sponges, etc. Clean sponges weekly.> I am not sure what else to do at the present and continue with the above program that I have started ... this is not my first tank and have not had anything like this in my previous reef tanks to compare with this ... if you need any more info let me know, I keep a fairly detailed log of all the parameters and my observations on the tanks inhabitants.  Please HELP...CRUSHED, CRASHING CHRIS FROM CLEARWATER                        <Check these out and let me know what they are Chris.  Craig>

More Water-More Questions! A few more questions if you don't mind <Ask away! Scott F. with you again!> Question 1 Why is my borate alkalinity so low, SeaChem test kit recommends 1.5 to 2.0 meq/l and mine is 0.8 meq/l? Should I even care if my total alkilinity is 4.0 to 4.5 meq/l? <I'd be more concerned with total alkalinity, myself> Question 2 Does LR use up calcium?  Placed another 70 lbs of LR in my tank and now calcium down to 280 ppm? <Well, live rock, in and of itself, does not really use up calcium. The calcium-loving plants and creatures that reside within it, however, do. So, you may see the calcium go down as a result of these organisms utilizing the available calcium> Question 3 I wish to scrap the idea of a small refugium and make a 35 gallon fuge, 36inches deep (I know quite deep but the only way I can get the volume I would like).  Will a 8 inch DSB work well in this application? <Sure- a remote deep sand bed is a real bonus to your system!> Is 4, 6 or 10 inches better? <I like a 6 inch bed, but you could go towards 8 inches. There is a "diminishing return" after around 10 inches, meaning that you're not getting anything out of the extra depth, so I would certainly not exceed 10 inches> Should I get some live sand or just let it turn live in time from the LR? <Either way is fine. Remember- "inert" sand will become "live" in due time...> Question 4 Do I need something to keep the sand stirred up?  If so what?  (Don't really want to spend money on unrequired creatures, just want denitrification, lower maintenance) <I really don't like the idea of sand-stirring animals in a deep sand bed. In my opinion, if they're too aggressive at stirring, they can disrupt the very processes that you are trying to foster. some people gently siphon from the top inch or so, but again, I don't think that is a mandatory procedure> Question 5 Is 150 gph about right for this size fuge?  Water will overflow back to the sump from the top, and by pumped in about 6 inches above the DSB. <Should be okay...Remember, the most productive refugia receive water directly from the display tank, before skimming, etc, to take advantage of the nutrients available> Question 6 Your thoughts on this set-up.  Egg-crate suspended about 4 inches above the DSB with pvc.  50 lbs of LR placed on the eggcrate.  Macro-algae grown on the LR. <Sounds okay, but I'd utilize a more "free-floating" macroalgae, such as chaetomorpha (my personal favorite)...just dump it in!> Question 7 What would be adequate lighting for this set-up?  I was thinking about four 23 watt pc lights from a home improvement store. I don't know the color temp or any specs on the bulbs except they are cheap and should last about 10,000 hrs.  Do I need to have a bulb specifically designed for marine use? <It would be nice, but not mandatory. If you could purchase a few full-spectrum bulbs for the macroalge, that would be best, IMO> Question 8 Should I run the fuge w/o lights for a month or so and then slowly turn on one light at a time (opposite from the display lights) until after about 3 months all 4 lights are running? <Your call here. Obviously you need to light things if you're growing macroalgae. Lots of people utilize the "reverse daylight" approach, where the refugium lights come on after the main tank lights go off. The benefit is a more stable pH. Others use a 24/7 photoperiod in the refugium....the debate rages on about which is the best option> Question 9 Will these fish likely all get along in my 90?  (In addition to the clowns) 4 inch regal tang, 3.5 yellow tang, 4.5 inch tang of another variety (suggestions) introduced in that order. <Honestly- I'd cut it off at one tang. I'd get either a Yellow Tang, Kole Tang, or the Regal...but just one, okay? All tangs really appreciate having extra "territory" in which to roam...> I would also like 1 or 2 3-inch coral beauties. In one year I would like to sell the two unsexed clowns and get a 1.5 inch niger trigger, and only keep him until he gets big enough to become a problem. Will this likely work? <Well, 2 Centropyge angelfishes in most any tank under 200-300 gallons is a gamble, IMO. There could be some potential harassment between the two...As far as the Niger Trigger...I have a personal opinion that it's not cool to keep a fish that you know will outgrow the tank...I mean, just when this fish is really accustomed to your tank's conditions, you "give him his walking papers" as they say, only to leave the poor fish to an uncertain fate at the LFS...I'd much rather see you get a fish that you can and will keep for its full life span; one that will not become too large for your tank... There are so many to choose from! On the other hand, if you will be buying a much larger tank in the next couple of years, then it's no problem to make him a temporary resident of this one. Plan for the "end game", and you should be really happy with your tank for many years to come! Good luck! regards, Scott F>

Water Quality & others Hello, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I appreciate your time & hope to have you answer the following questions. I have read through about every article & FAQ on your sites & the following is info I have collected over the past month, in order to not bother you with a ton of e-mails. I have not been able to find concrete info on these questions.               I have a sail fin tang, cleaner shrimp with LR only in a 80 gal. with Mag 9.5 pump which "Y" off to one 3/4" round nozzle & one 3"w thin nozzle, also have a small Rio 600 across the bottom back for additional circulation. Should I aim one nozzle towards the center bottom & one along the top brushing the surface of the water? <It's hard for me to say without actually seeing this arrangement. It sounds to me like you have a good amount of circulation for the system, but you could probably more circulation inside the tank - what you need to try and avoid are laminar flows - unchanging patterns. This is easy to accomplish by pointing two opposed powerheads directly at each other.> I noticed the Sailfins gills open very slightly every couple seconds, I don't believe this is normal? <I'm not sure I follow - all fish open their gills to pass water over them so they can breathe. Are you saying that the tang is opening them very wide, or just a little bit?> That questions being said brings me to my CO2 content. My tank has a KH of 17dh & PH of 8.5, ALK at 2.5 The conversion form (Tetra test kit) (Conversation of KH & PH) shows my CO2 at 1,5 mg/l . I run my water through a Kent Max R/O unit (Membrane is 3 - 4 years old- could this be a problem? <As far as putting CO2 in the tank? I highly doubt it.> My h2o direct from the unit shows a GH of 6 degrees dh.- Which I believe is low.) How can I raise the CO2 content, if that indeed is the problem? <You don't want to raise the C02 present in your water - it will lower pH.> How can I lower my KH, which I believe is high? <Depends... what other stuff do you add to your water/tank?> The following few questions, if your answers are a simple as "yes" or "no" I understand ! I keep my "air diffuser" off my venturi style skimmer, does this affect the process? <I don't think so.> When I introduced my sail fin tang into my tank I used "Selcon" on all meals (frozen angel food formula & Ocean Nutrition formula 1 pellets) & also soaked nori & seaweed selects algae, which he consumed immensely for a week. Can using this formula to often cause harm? <Not unless you pour entire bottles on the food, and even then the largest problem is affecting the water quality.> Is it best to use nori instead of seaweed selects, or switching from day to day ? <I think variety is the spice of life... mixing it up in addition to some meaty foods like mysis, etc would be best.> Thank you very much for your help !!! D. Mack <Cheers, J -- >

I can't see clearly now (or Fine Sand in a new tank) Good Evening WWM! <<Yes it is, nearly 60 here today :)>> Going on my 2nd day after putting down an Oolithic DSB. Although the water is clearing somewhat when can I expect it to be done? My LR arrived yesterday so I had to put it in the 55gal tank as well. Currently running all PH's, PS and a Canister. I'm hoping the Nitrogen Cycle has started ( used 6lbs of live sand as seeder ), not to mention the LR in the tank. Also, it looks like the tank glass has been covered with a silty film. I have an algae scrubber that could be used to rub it down or will it eventually dissolve into the water?  Since this is my first Marine Tank, I'm unsure what is acceptable.  Am I worrying over nothing? <<Mostly. The hardest thing to learn here (at least for me) is patience. Only bad things happen fast is the rule of thumb. Keep the filters/skimmer clean and wait. A few days at most. Regarding the cycle. You do have test kits eh? See here an beyond http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupii.htm for more info. Cycle can take many weeks so take this time to keep reading/learning. If you don't have any books on the topic yet, I would suggest the Conscientious Marine Aquarist by our very own Bob Fenner. If you are going down the coral road, then the Book of Coral Propagation by the one and only Anthony Calfo. Both of these books are good reads and a great way to start you library>> Thanks. <Have fun Scott, Don>> Scott

Re: dKH /ph/Ca Hello how are you? <Pretty good!> I'm in the process of making some salt water for a water change. I run my tap water through an RO unit and deionizer and then aerate it for a day. I then added about a teaspoon  of SeaChem "reef builder" to buffer the water its about 8 gallons which will be used for a  46 gallon  tank water change. <This buffer is labeled for 1 tsp per 40 gallons or thereabouts.... in 8 gallons this is trouble.> Then I added the salt to bring to a specific gravity of 1.025. I ran an KH/Alkalinity test by Salifert and noticed that dKH was off the charts at about 24. I guess I added way to much buffer. <Yep, as above.> I'm not sure if you have experience with these test kits but it took a syringe and a half to change the color of the sample water. A full syringe would amount to a dkh of 16. Can this be true and if so is it dangerous to use this for a water change. I never used to add the buffer before I added salt but read that the pure water coming out of ro/deionized water can deplete the buffers found in the salt. The dkh of my tank has been pretty stable at 10dkh for a few months now, but I am having trouble bringing  my ph above 8.2, it usually ranges between 8-8.2. I'm also having trouble raising calcium above 330. I use Anthony's slurry method and my tank does not have many corals, only keeping about 60lbs live rock, torch, bubble, Candycane, leather, and yellow polyps. <Okay. First, mix your salt water and after 12-24 hours of aeration, test alk/pH, etc. Then add supplements *if needed* according to label doses (I prefer Seachem because of this labeling info). Your pH is likely from depressed magnesium which should be three times the proper calcium level or around 1300. With Kalk use I bet this is the problem with depressed pH as the Kalk surely kicks it in the pants when you dose. I would dilute the 8 gallons into about 24-32 gallons and adjust the salinity up to 1.025 on that volume with the buffer.  It would likely be safe enough to use, although it will raise carbonates and reduce calcium accordingly. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm for more info on this topic.> One more thing if I may. My aqua c remora protein skimmer has stopped producing foam for about a week. It has gotten noisy and seems that the foam is too wet and just spews out into the collection cup and if I raise the collection cup really high I get drier foam but so little of it. Any idea why the skimmer would work so poorly for this long? It has worked great for since I got it. Obviously skimmers go through these issues for hours sometimes or maybe a day or two but a week? I'm going to give it a good cleaning and clean the power head to see if that will do the trick. Thanks for all your help...I really appreciate it. Angelo. <Several things Angelo. Get your pH and water chemistry right and the skimmer will pick-up in efficiency. Give the skimmer body, the injector and the powerhead a good cleaning. With correct water chem. and a clean skimmer it should fire back up the next day (keep your hands out of the tank too) and produce lots of dark skimmate.  Let us know how it goes.  Craig>

Re: Aragamilk - kalkwasser - PH, Alkalinity, KH Hello, Can anyone give me the basic parameters for Alkalinity, KH, PH for my reef tank? <Sure! 4-5 meq/L total alkalinity of which approx. 1.5-2 meq/L should be borate/hydroxide alkalinity. The result you are interested in is total alkalinity using a balanced buffer/carbonate supplement. PH should 8.3-8.4.  KH is carbonate alkalinity. 350-450 calcium.> Also, I was at a real awesome fish place today that uses Aragamilk in all of their reefs. They told me it's much much cheaper than dosing kalkwasser, as 1 drop is for two gallons of water and a 16 oz container would last me many many months for a 55 gallon reef tank. <This all depends on your carbonate usage, so a blanket statement about how long a product will last isn't accurate. A few drops may not supplement your system to the desired levels. As far as expense, kalkwasser (also known as pickling lime, hydrated lime) is far less expensive for dosing calcium and supporting alkalinity. There may/is still a need to supplement for carbonate alkalinity with both products, depending on testing/usage in your situation.  I would tailor the supplements to your specific use. The only way to top the use of kalkwasser is a calcium reactor.> I know many on the forum are "old school" and do what they KNOW works, and try not to deviate from the norm. Was wondering if anyone has had experience with Aragamilk.  Also would I need to dose Aragamilk at night similar to the methods of dosing kalkwasser? <No, it doesn't have the high pH of kalkwasser.> Because I have a refugium that's on a reverse daylight schedule, would dosing Aragamilk or kalkwasser at night REALLY make a difference due to the fact my ph will be relatively stable due to the refugium's reverse daylight methodology. Thanks again, Steve

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