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FAQs on Marine Water Supplements 2

Related Articles: Marine System Additives, Marine Maintenance, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity, The Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz,

Related FAQs: Marine Supplements 1, Marine Supplements 3, Marine Supplements 4, & FAQs on Marine Supplement: Rationale/Use, Science, Measuring, Using, Troubleshooting/Fixing... Products/DIY & Brands, & Biominerals, Iodine

All life needs minerals... Polycarpa aurata

Two Part Additive With Copper? Hello gents, happy holidays to all of you , thanks for being a year-round Santa with answering all of our questions! <And thank you for stopping by and enjoying the site! We're happy to bring it to you!> I have been keeping a 38 gallon for a while now, along with my 90.  The 38 has been kind of experimental, but I have successfully been keeping an elegance in it for over a month.  I have been using Kalk and the buffer for keeping up with calcium and alk.  I thought I would try out the ESV 2 part buffer system.  But before I added it to the tank I looked at the ingredients and saw that the calcium part had copper listed in it.  Is this going to be any kind of problem to inverts?, I know people use this all the time with great success.  Thanx. <An interesting question! I have not personally used this product, but it is one of the "standard" two part products out there on the market. Many hobbyists use this product with great success in reef systems, so I wonder if the copper is in a form or quantity that can cause harm. My advice would be to contact the manufacturer directly, as they are far better qualified to give you the scoop on this product. Hope this helps. Regards, Scott F>

Product Opinion - Coral Vital 7/10/03 I started using this stuff called coral vital <I'm sorry to hear it... I personally would not take this product for free.> I was wondering is it safe for my reef tank its a 65 gallon and if it is safe how often should I use it, and when should I discontinued it?   <'tis a question that cannot be answered definitively. Do consult the message boards for a wide range of consensus on the matter. My advice is that it is not necessary or helpful for long-term success with the aquarium> and where is the best site I can visit to purchase coral and fish for my aquarium the site that I can trust that you trust also???/thanks in advance <livestock should never be purchased sight-unseen in my opinion. Always make arrangements to order fishes through your LFS when possible. And be sure to QT all new animals for 4 weeks to be safe on arrival. Anthony>

Water changes and trace elements 7/15/03 What percentage of water should I change weekly.  Right now I am changing 5 gallons a week (65% actual water volume). <I don't follow your math for this 75 gallon tank. At any rate... the water change schedule will be dictated largely by water quality and the bio-load. Somewhere around 15-20% weekly for a minimum would be nice though> Also, wouldn't the water change only replenish depleted trace elements in the amount of water I change?   <correct... but we cannot/should not assume that all of the trace elements in the remaining water are depleted. The rate of uptake will vary considerably> It wouldn't help the rest of the tank would it?   <as per above... its only an issue if the demand exceeds the pool of reserve of said elements in the remaining water (not likely with a light/proper bio-load and regular water changes)> Thanks again.  James <best regards, Anthony>

- Aragamite and Moon Lighting Question - I searched your website but I could not find any info on Carib-Sea's AragaMIGHT. <There will be some after today.> Do you have any experience with the product? <Not directly... but I am familiar enough with it to know that I don't agree with some of their claims.> I was considering using it instead of Kalkwasser for my top off water. <I suppose that would work, but if your calcium needs are high, then you'd be better off with a calcium reactor.> Also, regarding moon lights, would you recommend using a florescent light (like the Blue Moon Light tube), or the LED type lights? <Probably the LED... less actual light-energy... more like a nighttime effect.> Which one looks better astatically? <That's for you to decide.> Thanks for your help. -Brian Kysia <Cheers, J -- >

Supplements and Additives Hi Everyone, My aquarium just finished cycling (65 gal., corner with Ocean Clear filter that goes undergravel and a Prizm Protein Skimmer, 55 lbs. live rocks) Right now, I have a flower pot, button polyps, an orange sponge and some frags of candy coral and star polyps. Fish: Yellow Tang, Yellow eye Tang and a Percula. A local fish store told me that I need some alkalinity buffers, calcium and iodine supplements for my corals. Do I need all these? <Only if you are not doing regular water changes. I would not supplement anything without test the water first to see what the current values are. Then dose the supplement to establish the level you want.> Will it affect my fish? <Most certainly, the fish and coral live side by side and both appreciate high water quality> Since my plan is a more fish aquarium. <I would rethink the fish stocking plan or stop where you are. The tangs will get way to big for a 65 and likely bully any new additions down the line, possibly each other with the Yellow dominating the Kole and others.> If I do need these supplements, what kind or brand would you recommend? <I use Salifert test kits and Seachem supplements, but then that's me <G>. Much to read on supplements on this website (WetWebMedia.com) Please do a search from the home page and you will find many opinions and discussions. Hope this helps, Don> Thanks again, Felix

- Marc Weiss Products - Hi guys, Was just wondering if you were familiar with "Mark Weiss' aquarium products" and if so, do you know if they work well? <I am familiar with these products, but have never used them due to their snake-oil-type claims. Additionally, chemical analysis done overseas has shown most of these products to be simple-sugar... which will appear to do some good for a while, but not an ideal supplement.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

- Additives - Is there any particular brand of aquarium supplements that you know of to be reputable and really work? <The best by far is/are frequent, small water changes. Most of the reputable salt mixes out there contain all the trace elements you need.> This is my first try at saltwater and I am confused about what additives I should (or shouldn't) put in my fish only tank. <In fish-only systems, the requirements for supplements are much less than a 'reef' system with corals and various filter-feeders. Give this article a read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm > Do I need to add trace elements or will those in the sea salt suffice? <I think the best thing to use in fish-only tanks is vitamin supplements in the fishes food.> Also, is there any supplement you know of that can actually help prevent disease of saltwater fish? <Well... promoting good health, that's your best bet. Vitamins help this, under-stocking helps this, keeping stress at a minimum; these will all help much more than some bottled elixir.> Thanks again for your patience and help.  James <Cheers, J -- >

2 Part Supplements... The danger of slow dosing 6/4/03 <Anthony Calfo with the follow-up> My 125 gallon reef has 15 fish and 20 corals (hammer, frogspawn, torch, xenia).  I was told by Kent that the slowest I can dose is about 200 ml per day. <agreed that there is some concern for not dosing 2 part supplement in fell shots. Although these products are dissolved/clear solutions, they are composed of different elements with different densities... hence the reason that recommend shaking vigorously before every dose to mix, and to not dose slowly over many hours/days. What happens is that the elements stratify and can be dosed disproportionately and skew water chemistry. Take your calcium part and put it in a clear glass and let it sit for a couple days undisturbed. In bright light with a close eye, you can see the stratification> What if I diluted the supplements with RO/DI water so that the daily dosing (of RO/DI water mixed with the supplement) is what is recommended daily? Will this work? <if mixed well and dosed in its entirety that day... yes, perhaps> Thanks again. <kind regards, Anthony>

B-ionic over vacation... Can I dose the b-ionic with the Kent Aqua Doser, of course using 2 dosers? I am going on 14 day vacation and need to keep the levels up. <You won't be able to drip slow enough out of the aqua dosers to keep your levels steady for 14 straight days. Hopefully you have someone who can come in to check on the house, you can pre-measure some so it is impossible to screw up! If your tank is not loaded with stony coral it may be alright to forget about the Ca for the duration. Have a good vacation! -Kevin> Thanks again.

Cloudy water The nitrates are down to 40. The water is still real cloudy. Am I over- using the Selcon? Soaking dried seaweed every other day? Do the additives that claim they clear cloudy water work. I started using the tap conditioner with aloe could that due it. I know the protein skimmer really bubbles when I use it. <I do not have much experience with the Selcon product, so I checked with Anthony, very little Selcon is needed, and too much could cloud your tank.  Word around the water cooler is Sea Clone skimmers are not the best, you might want to start looking into an upgrade, the Aqua-C Remoras and Urchins are nice.  Also, increased water flow will help with the nitrates, 10 to 20 times the tank volume is good.  -Gage>

- Dosing Calcium in a Teacup - <Good morning, JasonC here... > This is a great website, and I feel guilty for asking so many questions. Your wealth of knowledge has been incredibly helpful to me, and I can't express enough gratitude.  Now, on to my situation.  I've been using Kalkwasser for about a month now with my 12 gallon tank. <Good god! That doesn't seem safe to me at all - not enough water.> Before that, I was using Kent's Liquid Ca and Superbuffer.  I switched to the Kalkwasser bc of all the benefits I have heard about using it as well as the ease in keeping the alkalinity, [Ca], and pH in check all at once. In addition to the Kalkwasser, I dose in Iodine, Kent's Essential Elements, Strontium, and Molybdenum.  This may be standard procedure for everyone, but I find it somewhat excessive to have to dose all these materials. <Not standard procedure for me... I don't dose any of those myself. Especially with less than 12 gallons of water, you can 'dose' all those by changing the water.> Recently, I inquired to my LFS how they managed to get such an abundance of coralline algae in their display tanks.  The guy tells me that all he uses is Tropic Bio Marin Ca and nothing else since it contains "all the essential elements of sea water" already in the mix. He actually huffed when I told him that I use Kalkwasser, saying it was a waste of time and energy to be doing all the dosing I have been doing. All my parameters are where they need to be, but I haven't seen any significant coralline algae growth in the two and a half months I've had my tank up and running (first month I was using the two part, second month using Kalk). <Your tank needs to run a little while longer... at a certain point, you will have to beat back the coralline with a stick, but your system is quite new and will need some time to mature.> I'm wondering if I should drop my routine (i.e. stop dosing everything I'm using now) and give this Tropic Bio Marin Ca a try exclusively like this particular LFS. <I think you should skip it all and just rely on getting what you need from frequent water changes.> I can't dispute the fact that store's tank has great coralline algae growth and everything looks healthy. <Their tank has likely been running much longer too.> It just seems like it might be too good to be true.  Also, I've been reading up on Bio Marin Ca on the site, and I'm a bit confused.  Is it a balanced additive like Kalk or does it need some kind of additional buffer in equal amts to keep the balance? <I've never used the stuff, but I do use their salt.> If it does need buffer, how do I keep the balance in check...do I just use a 1:1 ratio (e.g. 1 tsp Tropic Bio Marin to 1 tsp Kent SuperBuffer) at each daily addition? <I would follow Tropic Marin's instructions.> Like I mentioned earlier, my parameters are just the way they need to be right now so I don't want to throw that off. <So don't.> I'm also of the impression that I'm just not being patient enough with the coralline algae since it's only been two months with the tank. <This would be my pitch to you - do some deep breathing exercises and relax.> But even still, I think that's plenty of time to at least see SOME coralline algae growth, right? <I don't think so - two and a half months is not a long time.> Also, it's a hassle dosing everything and not seeing any results when I could just dose Tropic Marin Ca only and know that I'm on track to getting the great growth that the LFS has. <Work on that patience thing...> Any advice would be appreciated and thanks in advance. <Cheers, J -- >

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>

Mixing Kent Products for Combined Dosing 3/18/03 This may seem like a bit of an unorthodox question, but I was wondering If you might be able to answer it.  I have a reef setup and I want to make my dosing of Iodine, Strontium & Molybdenum, and Essential Elements a bit easier.  All three of the above solutions are Kent Marine products. The specs are as follows:  Iodine (5 ml/50 gal every week), Strontium & Molybdenum (5 ml/50 gal every four days), Essential Elements (5 ml/50 gal every week or two).  What I want to do is combine all three solutions into one container in the ratio of 1:0.5:1, respectively. When I dose my 10 gallon tank, I would draw 2.5 ml of the homogenous mixture and feed that to the tank every week (or maybe 1.25 ml twice a week).  My question is if it's safe to mix the solutions beforehand like I plan on doing?  I'm afraid that the pH differences of the solutions may not be compatible or that unwanted chemical reactions may occur. Can you validate my worries or should I just go through with this idea? Thanks in advance. <some additives can be mixed indeed... but it is a bad habit. Even some compatible ones (likely all) have different densities in theory stock solutions. This you have the issue of separation/stratification in the mix which leads to disproportionate dosing condition. You could then engineer a mixing apparatus (magnetic stirrer plate, etc) on a timer to keep the solution mixed... but this is all over thought and over engineered IMO. Since you need to inspect the tank briefly each day anyways... my advice is to not anguish over the seconds/couple minutes it takes to measure x drops/ml of a few supplements. The extra attention is what makes good tanks become great...a matter of finesse. If you would still like to pursue the idea... my advice is to seek counsel from chemist Randy-Holmes Farley at Reef Central... I dearly value his opinion and perspective. He has an authors forum and you can ask him a question directly. Kind regards, Anthony>

Feeding, vitamins and water additives Thank you for your prompt reply yesterday.  being the worry-wart I am, I have a feeding question for you.  In my 55, I have 35 lbs of live rock, 25 lbs of base rock, 2 false percs (1.5"), 1 royal Dottyback (2"), 1 3 stripped damsel (pioneer from day one of the tank and oddly my favorite), 1 spotted watchman goby (4"), and a colony of brown zoanthids.  Anyway, in the AM I feed a good pinch of Omega 1 flakes, a small amount of brine shrimp, and a capful of reef solutions.  I put mix in a 12 ounce glass of premade ro/di freshwater and pour it in.  Additionally, the goby gets a small chunk of krill (fed by hand).   In the PM, they get frozen foods (1/3 emerald entree, 1/3 frozen brine, 1/3 marine medley?) all San Fran. Bay products. The tang in qt (ick recovery) gets the same, but on a much smaller scale, as well as a small piece of seaweed under an inert rock in the qt.  Is this a good regimen, and could you recommend liquid vitamins that I could include on a regular basis. <Sounds fine if not overdone. I might sub mysis for brine, which offer nothing nutritive. Most folks are happy with Selcon.> (I supplement w/ calc, iodine, stron/ Moly, trace elements)  thank you!!! John M. McCarty <Just make sure you are dosing these according to good quality tests/actual use as needed. Also test for carbonate alk/buffer needs, esp. with constant 12 ounce per day unbuffered RO water. Enjoy!  Craig>

- Balancing Chemical Equations - All, <Good morning, JasonC here...> When Calcium Chloride is added to water, you get wanted calcium ions and unwanted chloride ions.  Does Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) break up into sodium ions and bicarbonate ions? <Oh man... general chemistry seems so far away right now. I think for the basics, yes this is true.> If so, wouldn't the chloride ions combine with the sodium ions to form NaCl, salt?  It probably isn't a perfectly balanced equation, but it seems that it could mitigate the usefulness of calcium chloride. <It would seem that way, but there are other reactions taking place in a marine system that would also need to be taken into account. What those reactions are exactly is escaping me at the moment... but on the simple path, I think this is true - you would produce salt.> If each is added in *small* quantities, say Calcium Chloride in the early a.m. and Sodium Bicarbonate in the early p.m., couldn't they become a useful adjunct to regular Kalkwasser use, if Kalkwasser alone was not supplying enough calcium to meet the daily demands of a given system (as is my case). <Well... if you look at a bottle of ESV B-Ionic, you will find that their part A is calcium chloride, and part B is sodium bicarbonate, and part B buffers part A. So in effect, this is similar to the reaction you describe. I'm not a huge fan of Kalkwasser myself - much to easy to get into bad trouble with. You might want to consider a calcium reactor - the cash outlay is perhaps a little high up front, but in the long term will save you money, grief, and is much better for your system than calcium chloride.> Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <Cheers, J -- >

Help with Reef Additives????? This question is for Bob Fenner if Possible. Bob, you always have a way of explaining aquarium issues in a way I understand. <Bob is in Hawaii, so you get Craig today.> I am concerned about the long-term use of 2 part additives to maintain calcium/Alk.   I have used them in my 75 reef to maintain my Alk around 9DKH and calcium around 400.  My concern over the long term is about trace elements building up in the tank from this stuff (using it for next 5 to 10 years or however long my tank stays up).  I do weekly water changes to keep my water quality in check and do not feel these added trace elements in these two part solutions are necessary. <Not to worry, these maintain ionic balance in seawater/artificial seawater. Also, water changes and use by organisms keeps these in check. With few exceptions, these supplements are matched to seawater concentrations, depending on your salt mix as well. Your salt also contains these elements.> All the two part additives seem to be loaded with these trace elements.  Can you explain (or point me to the place) and answer the following: 1. How to make my own two part Calcium/Alk buffering system without all the trace elements. <Use Kalkwasser and carbonate/buffer supplements instead. My preference is Kalkwasser dosed as a slurry per Anthony's book or dripped as usual, with Seachem buffer. You will then need to test for magnesium, strontium, etc. which are contained in the ionically balanced two part systems.> 2  Or, if a better solution in your opinion, how to dose Kalkwasser. <To use as a slurry, use a pH meter, 1/16th of a teaspoon Kalk mixed in cold RO/DI water per 100 gallons tank capacity to start, dose until pH climbs .02 only. Can be dosed multiple times per day. OR, use Kalkwasser solution as normal; usually 2 tsp per gallon of refill/top off water per day, drip at night when pH is naturally depressed, one drop per second.  You will need to test magnesium and strontium with Kalk use.  Test at least every two weeks to be sure levels are nominal.> P.S. , my Asfur Angel is doing great in the new 225.  What a beautiful fish and pet.   He waits at the top to eat out of my hand.   I decided to add only a Sohal and some Red Sea green chromis to the tank to allow them all plenty of room to grow.   Coralline is starting to spread in the tank and it is becoming truly beautiful. Thank you for all your wonderful help.   Andrew Elstein <Sounds great Andrew, I wouldn't worry at all about the trace elements, the cost of the two parters is a bigger threat! Best of luck!  Craig>

- Questions about Water - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I started my water cycle about 9 weeks ago the first 4 weeks I add salt to the water, and then I put like 10 damsels for 5 weeks. 1st question is, a few days ago when I went to the fish shop, and I bought a clown trigger and a puffer, but I took a water sample from my tank and the guy from the store told me that the nitrate was very low, so I sold me a bottle I think is called "Nitromax" that are like two bottles attach, I think one of them is oxygen and the other one is bacteria I said to add like one teaspoon for every ten gallons (which I did). Today I took another sample of water to another store (octopus's garden), and they told me the nitrate was very high??????? so my question is if its low there's not enough bacteria, and if its high its dangerous to the fishes???? <Low nitrates aren't an indicator of a lack of bacteria... this is a very new system, I wouldn't expect a high nitrate reading in a tank of this type.> every body is giving me different opinions???? <I don't see it quite that way... I think perhaps you are misinterpreting the data. The tank is new... nitrates build up slowly. The Nitromax was not necessary, but by adding this and the new fish you increased the bioload which would also increase the amount of nitrates - none of these things are a surprise.> so I guess the more convenient thing to do is buy the NO2 Profi Test Nitrate Kid, and the PH Profi test kid and hope You might give me the correct advice....... <My friend, you should do some reading and learn to trust your own instincts rather than be swayed by other's advice.> what they last told me is that the nitrate test should appear white  0.00% of the purple color chart, and that the PH should be in the 8.3% that is the green color on the color chart. <In the ideal world... there is a range to these things and also a little give and take. For pH, a reading between 8.2 and 8.4 is ideal - 8.5 or 8.1 is not a disaster. Likewise, depending on the type of system you 'want' to have, a reading of zero nitrates may not be practical, and even 10 ppm would be just fine. Give these things time... this is a very new tank.> PLEASE advice me which is the correct information?????? <Actually, I will plead with you, read this link and inform yourself: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm > My second question is I already both the Marine buffer "SeaChem" brand to maintain the correct PH since it was like 7.9,  and the Nitrate was 4 that they told me it was extremely high should I do a water change or there's some chemical that can lower it down if needed  (please tell me which of the information I received its correct the one that the bacteria is low, r the one that the bacteria and PH is high)... <All the information you have gotten so far is subjective - it all depends on the information you give the people who are giving you the advice. If I were you I would relax, breathe deeply, and let the tank do it's own thing. Don't be so hasty to add any/everything that come in a bottle.>  I really appreciate all of your help and information. 3rd question I herd that in the la Jolla aquarium they give you perfect salt water for free, is it better to go and get these water or is the same if you make it correctly with purified water (bottle water) adding the salt correctly????? <Well... it is true that there is a filtered seawater spigot at the Scripps pier, and this is the same water they use in the aquarium. BUT... unless you are prepared to let this water sit for as long as a week, and then filter it before you add it to your tank, I wouldn't recommend it. In fact, at this stage in the game for you, I wouldn't recommend it at all - this same water has been responsible for wiping out entire tanks to those who didn't handle the water correctly. Stick to mixing the store bought salts. In the meanwhile, please read this link and better inform yourself about using seawater: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm You might also want to consider joining our local marine aquarium society where you can meet other people with similar interests: http://www.sdmas.org/ > thank you for replying. <Cheers, J -- >

Water quality test values Ok, here are the numbers: pH: 8.5, Alk: 8.6dKH, Cal: 350, Nitrate: 2.5 mg/L So, that is without additives, and I haven't even done a water change on this tank yet, pretty good numbers to start out with. I'm scared that Kalk will raise my pH too much? <Then why add it? If you're not trying to boost biomineralizing life... as in with intense light use... your values are fine> Would I start possibly dosing maybe every other night or something and test? I'd like to add some hardy corals to start out with. <Then do> I've read the sections on Cal on the site, but I'm in good shape now so I just want to be able to maintain those numbers. Thanks for the help, Ehren <I encourage you to keep studying, try the Kalkwasser if you'd like... but stay open to two-part supplements, the chance/idea of calcium reactors down the line. Bob Fenner> Dosing for calcium, alkalinity Yes I suppose 2 parts would be somewhat economical for 29g tank with soft corals and a few LPS, but there would be days that would miss dosing for sure. <The two part preparations are also much safer> Thanks for the help and I'll keep reading! <This is best. Bob Fenner>

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 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 <Likely not as the refugium stabilizes the oxygen/CO2 content of the water and thus the pH and any advantage of nighttime/early AM dosing.  For more info on water chemistry check out the info in the marine section of WetWebMedia.Com  Hope this helps!  Craig>

Dosing calcium, alkalinity chemicals One last question, a biggie. I'm trying to decide how to supplement calcium. I've used Kalk and 2 parts in the past, but am trying to figure out which approach to take here. Test kits are on the way for Alk & Calcium, so I'm not starting anything until I test, but I know I will need it sometime. I have a dosing pump that will dose top off water 24hrs a day via a set dose, and it has a float switch as well for a backup. So if I dosed Kalk I would have to dose all day via the pump. My only problem with 2 parts is adding every day, sometimes I'm gone for a couple of days at a time, hence the pump to take care of top off well I'm gone. <There are many possibilities here, including calcium reactors. I applaud your waiting to add anything until which time you have tests for same. Please read through our materials on supplementing alkaline earth elements (particularly calcium) and carbonates, bicarbonates, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and following through the linked pages (at top, in blue). Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ehren

Question on buying chemicals etc.. Hi, I have 2 local shops in my area and I pay through the nose for SEACHEM products; SeaGel and Renew.  I inquired about purchasing cases of each but feel my requests have been forgotten about, my guess is so that  I keep buying one or two 500g canisters at a clip as I need them.   <have you tried contacting SeaChem to ask them where the closest distributor if for you to buy the quantity you desire? Oftentimes, these companies make bulk sized packages for commercial customers (wholesalers, public aquariums, etc)> I figure this because I recently purchased Corallife salt through a friend who works for a large distributor; I got a 300 gal box of salt for 43.00, prior to that I had paid more than that for a 150 gal pail of the same salt so I've realized a crazy mark up on these things.   <you've misunderstood, my friend... the markup isn't crazy. It is necessary for your LFS to stay in business to be there 5-7 days a week at your disposal to answer questions and have useful inventory in stock at a whim for if and when you decide to stop. Costs real money to run operate such a business. If a given LFS does not serve your needs, simply find another that does. But do consider that it is the LFS that cultivates new aquarists that keep the industry afloat and in existence so that advanced aquarists can continue to enjoy it (we are a very small segment of the market). So... the problem isn't the markup, just that you no longer need that service and/or are unwilling to pay for it. Not a crime. I understand.> I'm sure there are places that one can buy the supplies and not have to deal with such a high mark up.   <again.. understood and agreed. But new aquarists go to their LFS first... and do not know of easily find the best mail order places first. If mail order companies put their LFS out of business, the hobby dies. My advice... support the LFS when you can, mail order when necessary, and understand the reason for the margins of both merchants> I'd buy from this same friend but their business does not carry what I've been looking for. Can you tell me some places I might be able to buy at better prices.  I live in North East Pennsylvania; thanks in advance. <Have you tried the Hidden Reef down in Philadelphia? They do mail order and local traffic. Best regards, Anthony>

Question on buying chemicals etc.. Thanks Anthony, Don't get me wrong and don't take my response the wrong way... <no worries at all my friend... I just used your query as a convenient tutorial for folks that read the dailies at large. It raised a very good point> I don't mind paying for things I need and will always continue to buy from and support my LFS for all my fish and for odds and ends which by the way still adds up at the end of the year.   <understood and agreed> As far as the whim.....I don't buy on a whim and it's not when and if I decide to stop because like I said I am a regular customer who has a deep pocket if you know what I mean....and many times the product I need isn't available at either place because they don't stock enough or forgot to order the specific item that was requested. <yes... the dilemma with small or unprepared shops> Thanks for the tip on the Hidden Reef in Philly,  I will check that out. <excellent... they are the best in their region> Will also check with Seachem as suggested and will continue to support the LFS. Tim <rock on my brother :) Anthony>

Re: ick?? hello, again. thanks for the info, although I do not have a "hospital tank" set up, the eel seems to be doing fine, there are no ich spots on him.  we received him two days before the last fish died. we did about a 30% water change and treated the tank with hex-a-mit for a week.  I am wondering if we should continue to treat the tank and for how much longer.  I would also like to know what the set up would be for the "hospital". <This set-up is the same sort of tank, gear as for quarantine. Please see WetWebMedia.com re> I am also wondering if these KENT MARINE solutions are actually necessary and good for the aquarium, fish, and corals??? >>>coral-Vite, iodine, strontium & molybdenum, liquid calcium, and Zo?   <Why would you use them, buy them in the first place? I don't encourage you/anyone to use anything they don't have need, test kits for. You can insert each name in our Google Search tool on WWM homepage and read/study re their application, utility.> I have not placed these in the tank since all the fish died; but some of the solutions are for the corals too; so I was wondering if these are really necessary, they seem like they would be. thanks for your time. <Study. Bob Fenner>

- To Supplement or not supplement, that is the question - <Greetings, JasonC here...> My first reef tank (75 Gallons, AquaC Remora Pro Skimmer, Marineland HOT Filter running carbon) has been up for about 2 months (soft coral only).  I have spent so much $$$ on so many different supplements such as the Marc Weiss products.  After much research, I have come to the following decision and wanted your advice.   I will only be adding when needed:  bulk buffer, bulk calcium & Iodide. <How about this for a plan: only add things which you have tested for and know for certain they need to be added, with the exception of food of course.> I will do 5 gallon weekly water changes using Instant Ocean. <You could save some trouble and do roughly 10% every two weeks... that's my favorite regimen.> I will be adding 2 spoonfuls twice a week of freeze dried phytoplankton. <For which soft corals?> I feel with the above I can get away with not adding Strontium, Magnesium, trace elements, Marc Weiss, or similar products. <Well... I'm not even remotely a fan of Marc Weiss products and consider them to be pretty much junk. The other trace elements are often supplemented when you do water changes. Any other item you are concerned about should be tested for... always. You might not need to add them at all.> Do you agree with this or what else should I add?  Also, do you recommend running carbon 24/7? <Nah... I run it for about a week every month or so, and sometime not even that regularly. It's wise to run some carbon sometimes, but not all the time. The carbon will eventually lose its effectiveness and will also become a detritus trap. Good idea to change it out.> Thanks for any info., Frank Kukla <Cheers, J -- >

Supplements I too use the B-ionic and Instant Ocean salt.  However, without strontium wouldn't coralline growth be slower <nope... corallines may be stimulated by Strontium, but they are not limited by it. It is used to make aragonite as Strontium carbonate... but there is another Cation they can use to make an aragonite structure with carbonates- Calcium! Yep... that's an important one :) > (I just added rock and am trying to build up the coralline)? <Calcium gluconate (sugar-based organic Calcium as in Seachem's Reef Calcium) is great for spurring coralline growth. Not for coral growth though> What about shrimp without iodine?   <a small amount daily is best IMO... don't abuse> Can you maybe recommend an all-in-one supplement that you have heard good things about? <there is no such thing... some of the essentials cannot be mixed in the same bottle. My advice is to use a 2-part Ca/ALK supplement and be SURE to mix before every use (separations). Add to this fresh iodine and regular water changes and I say you have a winning program> I'm particularly concerned with the strontium and iodine, but ideally I would not like to have to test for them.   <Then do 25% weekly water changes> Have you heard anything about Ecosystem's "Reef Solution"?; it includes strontium, magnesium, iodine, and vitamin C. <a good mix> One more question.  Last week I corresponded with Steven Pro regarding preparation/reconstitution of RO/DI water.  He mentioned that he used Seachem's Marine Buffer and Reef Builder.  Did he mean he either uses one or the other; or, do you think he uses both at the same time?   <they can/are used concurrently> Also, how do you prepare your RO/DI water? <please browse through our archives of FAQs... they are sorted by subject. There has been pages written on this subject. Be sure to aerate your purified water before doing anything to it though> Thanks again, AK <best regards, Anthony>

Supplements Hello all, <Hi!> I was hoping you would enlighten me as to what brand products you use for your calcium, <B-ionic two part> iodine/iodide <I don't use this> strontium, <Don't use this> and pH buffer/alkalinity additives. <B-ionic> Also, are iron and magnesium necessary for a successful reef?   <Some people do use ALL of the additives that you mention. Iron is good for plant growth. My macro algae grows fantastically without it (Halimeda, Gracilaria and hair algae. HA!). I personally don't use an iron or magnesium supplement. Magnesium can affect your calcium and this is why some aquarists use this product. Read all of the available material on these issues and then decide what makes sense to you. In my case, I don't want to test for all of these components and in most cases their usefulness in aquaria (except for calcium and buffers) has not be proven. Most of what you read on bottles is simply hype produced by the company selling the product. A good salt mix will contain reasonable levels of all of these additives. I use Instant Ocean>   Do you use these also? <No>   If so, again, what brand do you use? <Skip these miracle cures. Practice good husbandry> How many times per week do you add each (all) of the above supplements?   <I add B-ionic as needed to maintain the proper calcium/alkalinity...usually several times a week...or everyday if I've been slack on water changes. I also add a little Kalkwasser to the salt water that I use for water changes...I use the slurry method for delivery a couple of days before I do the water change. The slurry method is described by Anthony Calfo on WetWebMedia> Am I missing any important or recommended supplements besides maybe a little vitamin C? <A vitamin supplement like Selcon that you can soak all food in...It will help keep the fish healthy and avoid HLLE> Thanks again for you time, Adam <You're more than welcome! David Dowless>

Hardening substrate Hello WWM crew! Not sure who I'll get, but I know you all know your stuff.  My set up is as follows: 90 gal. reef tank, with 70 gal refugium w/ 18" x 48" plenum. and 50 gal sump.  Mostly SPS and LPS corals and a couple anemones.   <good heavens... please split this group up soon if you want any of the to see 5 years old let alone ten. A lot of chemical aggression with this garden reef (soup) of drastically different corals. Please resist mixing LPS, SPS and especially anemones (species tank) unnaturally> 150 lbs of LR and about 100 lbs Live sand. My skimmer is an AquaC EV 400. Total system water is about 180gallons.  The question I have is over the last couple of months I have noticed something leaching out of the water and covering the pumps impellers and heaters of the sump, but don't notice it on anything else  It is a white cement like substance that can only be scraped off glass by a razor blade.   <calcium carbonate?> Also the substrate in my plenum is starting to "crust over" or "cement" together.   <ahhh... yes. Spiking your pH with supplements too much or too fast. Either fast running Kalkwasser or excessive/unshaken (shake vigorously every time) 2-part mixes. Do water changes to dilute and temper your dosing protocol> Nothing visible in the substrate but when you run your fingers through it, it comes up in giant clumps 1" to 1.5" thick.  Any ideas?  I use a couple of additives. EVS B-Ionic 2 part alk/cal,  EVS Iodine, Kent Marine Strontium, and EVS activated carbon.   <all sounds fine... I really like ESV products> I do 5-10% water change each week with RODI water & Instant Ocean.   <larger water changes needed here especially as long as you have such a wild mix of corals and no application of ozone. Approach 25% weekly for ideal> Also am thinking about added a calcium reactor.   <quite convenient> Is the Knop C a good choice and big enough for my tank?   <hmm... that depends. What is your daily demand for calcium? ppm? I use a Knop reactor myself and love it. Others favor different brands> Looking forward to the new book.  Keep up the great work! Be chatting, Brad Stefanko <thanks kindly! Anthony>

Coralline growth I had no other coralline or live rock. And I want to regenerate/populate my old 20 lbs of 2 year dried rock. So I bought 3 lb of live rock with a piece of coral thrown in. <ahhh, yes... very fine> Thank you for the information (and your patience) on generating additional coralline ( I plead ignorance here, were talking the purple stuff on the rock here right?) <our great pleasure> If so, is it safe to add while my tank is cycling?  I'm in week 3, ammonia is finally down to .10 to 0.0.. Nitrite is still 1.0 Nitrate just moved up to .20 The Seachem Reef Calcium can be added anytime... and Kalkwasser (for Calcium) and SeaBuffer (alkalinity) must be added ASAP and as necessary to maintain appropriate Ca and ALK levels. Test accordingly and read this article for a primer on the subject: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm >> Again a million thanks to you all for the newbie help... Dave <best regards. Anthony>

Growing coralline, and please... no more anemones in reef tanks Thanks for the information. I bought because it had some nice coralline. I'm trying to repopulate some old now dead (at least two years dried out) live rock. Understood... but unless your tank had absolutely no speck of other coralline, this was not needed or helpful. Growing coralline algae is about water quality, not starter cultures per se. Very consistent levels (and dosing) of Calcium and alkalinity (buffers) are crucial for fast and strong coralline growth. Adding sugar based calcium to this (Seachem's Reef Calcium) can really jump start the growth too> I doing this one a very tight budget, so I'm not getting anything too expensive for a long while. Mostly live rock, maybe a tang ( have a damsel right now of course, new tank). At some point I'd like to get a couple clowns and a nice carpet for them to play in. <the clown does not need the anemone and the anemone (in captivity) will be worse for wear with the clown. Furthermore, most anemones (especially carpets) require more expensive and brighter light than most coral. They are also harder to keep and should not be mixed wit any other stinging cnidarians (other anemones or coral). Basically... they need a species tank at best. I'd recommend you leave them in the ocean and admire form afar> Do you think I should remove the coral? Again, thanks for everything <if it gets covered with more corallines before nuisance algae, then leave it in if you like. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Azoo Products need help Good day, Frank here from Malaysia. The company website is www.azoo.com.tw from Taiwan. As in Malaysia, we do not have many marine products what I can get is Sera and Azoo. Recently, I bought phosphate remover and calcium powder from Azoo. The phosphate remover is liquid type. Don't know is there any side effect on reef tank although the product is suitable use for reef tank. <I cannot recommend this. I do not know what it is nor have I used it, but it does not seem possible that this product could remove anything. It is not a media that absorbs phosphate, just some stuff you pour into your tank. Therefore, I do not think it should/could be properly described as a "remover" of anything.> About the calcium powder, it doesn't mention calcium hydroxide or Kalkwasser, but I have to put it slowly into the tank as the product effects my pH very fast. <It is maybe Kalkwasser.> The product is much cheaper compared to calcium chloride such as Coralife (by drops) <We do not recommend the regular use of calcium chloride.> and Sera calcium (by bottle cups). Is this product is baking soda to increase pH? <The best thing for you would be to contact the company regarding what their product actually is.> This is the description from the product -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AZOO REEF CALCIUM POWDER contains highly concentrated calcium powder and Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3). This product enhances calcium absorption and stimulates skeleton growth. As a periodic supplement, this powder replaces calcium gradually lost in synthetic aquariums and enhances the healthy growth of marine fish, zooxanthellae, invertebrates such as stony corals, shellfish, shrimps, tubeworms, and large marine algae such as Caulerpa sp., Halimeda sp., etc. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For Azoo Phosphate Remover description AZOO PHOSPHATE REMOVER removes all diluted phosphates and restrains the growth of algae in your freshwater or saltwater aquarium. This product combines phosphates in the water and turns them into compounds that cannot be reused by algae. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AZOO CLOUDY TREATER makes aquarium water crystal clear by helping to remove minute suspended particles. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AZOO ALGAE TREATER works well against adhesive algae and phytoplankton such as: brush algae, beard algae, thread algae, brown algae, slime algae, red algae and water blossom. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AZOO GREEN WATER REMOVER works well in cleaning green water caused by unicellular floating algae. It will help your aquarium to become crystal clear. Harmless to fish and water plants, it is also suitable for nature aquariums and ponds. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I have no idea whether Azoo product is reliable product a one of the good choice as consumer preference. The products written suitable use for reef tank, fresh water tank and pond. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- All the above products I plan I will use it on reef tank. Thank you for upcoming questions. <The only one of the above that I would use is possibly the calcium additive. If it is calcium hydroxide, it will be fine. Otherwise, I would search for alternatives. -Steven Pro>

Knop supplements Hi Di Clams Direct is selling the supplements with their clam orders, and the question came up regarding dosing- If you are using a number of supplements, VitF, VitB, and Iron & Magnesium, how would you properly dose the system? wait an hour between product dosing? dose with all products at the same time? Please advise. Koralvit Combi is a combination supplement for all aquaria, KoralVit F is a food, all others are single supplements that will be used on demand (e. g. iodine for plenty of clams in the tank, iron for tanks with plenty of macroalgae and for increasing the coloration in stony corals, iodine and strontium for increasing the growth of stony corals). The supplements should not be mixed directly, but they all can be dosed at the same time, simultaneously or one after the other, without the risk of any chemical reaction. Best regards, Daniel

Aragamilk Sorry to bother you guys but I have a question about Carib sea Aragamilk. Do you know any pros and cons about this stuff <hmmm... need to know more precisely what it is you are asking...  very general question. Ultimately though, I will say (having used this product and tested in my coral farm/greenhouse) that I have a clear and defined (many FAQs here on WetWebMedia to this effect) preference for calcium hydroxide and/or a calcium reactor. They are more consistent and reliable and have more benefits beyond Ca and ALK supplementation> TIA, dab <best regards, Anthony>

Dosing 2 part Kent Marine Hi gang, what's shaking? <Nothing much...hanging out on a Saturday night in Vegas answering questions!> I'm just a little unsure about dosing the 2 part Kent Tech CB supplements. My level of Ca is 470 and my dKH reading is 13. <You're not far off track. But I hasten to add that high calcium and high alkalinity is usually mutually exclusive. That means it is really difficult to get both of them really high. One usually stays somewhat depressed. There is a fabulous article about the relationship between calcium and alkalinity written by Anthony Calfo. This article can be found at Wetwebmedia.com Check at the bottom of the homepage under "New articles."> Both a touch high maybe. What I'm wondering is, if levels are where you want, add neither supplement? <There is a protocol outlined in the article above that will explain what the procedure is for adding the right amount of supplement> Do I monitor readings and just add whichever (part A or B) is needed? <See note above> Or do you always add both and they balance themselves out? <See the note above> BTW my Ca readings of my mixed fresh saltwater (IO) is close to 500. Is that normal? <It sounds very high...Almost impossibly high. I would try a new test kit> It does keep my readings high. All I have in my 55g is 60 lbs of LR. thanks so much for your response.. Justaguy. <You are certainly welcome Justaguy. David Dowless>

Re: Reef secure test Dear crew, after reading some of the emails with regards to tank supplements, I noticed one which was sent to Bob Fenner from cool coral products with regard to a product that they have developed called reef secure, could you please tell me if Bob trialed that product and what his reaction (if any) was good/bad/indifferent.  I am currently using Knop coral Vit Combi along with my reactor and Knop coral Vit f, but I have been looking at SeaChem reef plus does that other product compare in any way. Your views are always greatly appreciated. Yours aquatically, Paul Matthews, England <Yikes, thank you for this reminder. I sent the sample along to a friend here in town, and had lost track for follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Calcium Reactors & Supplements Hi Bob! <Steven Pro in this afternoon.> Have you any knowledge of the Intermarin calcium reactor? <Nope> And could you please clear something up for me. <Sure> In my research before buying my live corals, almost all sites I've looked at say the corals will thrive better with the addition of trace elements and iodine and such. <It depends on what you mean by trace elements, but I agree. I and recommend others supplement for calcium, alkalinity, and sometimes iodine. In addition, I feed the tank a variety of appropriate foods.> Now with the introduction of these supplements (or so I am assuming since your site says that's most likely what it is) has come my algae problem. <There are other possibilities. Please be sure to explore all sources of nutrient imports and inadequate export mechanisms, but I agree, some supplements are nothing more than pollution in a bottle.> So can I toss out my supplement bottles and figure on my corals getting enough of the trace elements and such from water changes? <This depends on your tank and its demands. Some systems can be maintained through water changes alone, other require dosing due to stocking levels.> Except for the algae, my water is fine. pH and all are well within ranges and my skimmer is removing between 2 and 3 cups a week. I am feeding my fish very lightly in a attempt to prevent any more algae growth but I do add the recommended amount of plankton for the corals. <Please research both your corals needs and the appropriate foods. I am not sure what you are referring to when you say plankton or even if this is right for your corals.> Do I need to maybe cut back on that as well? <I cannot be sure. There are other possibilities; source water, salt mix, water changes, etc. Do read through what we have available regarding nuisance algae and its causes, develop a comprehensive plan of attack, and go for it.> Thanks, Robert <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Dosing Ca & Supplements Hi WWM crew, <Hi!> My Berlin reef tank is 6 months old now... have a few fish and corals in it and I'm constantly replacing evaporated water with kalk+vinegar. The tank is 100gal and daily evaporation is about 1/2 gal. As you can see this isn't enough to keep Ca levels above 400 range with Kalk, especially as I added some LPS corals 2 weeks ago... <DO test calcium and carbonate alkalinity and determine your usage and from that, your dosage.  Don't guess,> Should I go and buy some calcium chloride to extra elevate my Ca levels? What's the best dosing method? <The best article on the best method is right here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm   Anthony wrote this recently just for this occasion!> As I also dose strontium and iodine once per month, I would like to know if it's ok to mix them into my Kalk solution (just once per month of course), as this way I wouldn't need another dosing equipment.  Thank you, si-reefer <The strontium may be, but both of these can be dosed directly to a high current area of the display as easily. Again, I recommend testing before dosing.  Follow Anthony's advice for supplements if needed.   Craig>

Additives and Such Guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> I have recently added a 90 gal refugium with DSB and plenum and a Knop dH cal reactor to my 450gal  reef tank. Refugium been in use for one month, reactor for 2 weeks. Tank is already showing big improvements. Do I still need to keep adding supplemental magnesium, strontium, molybdenum, or will/should the cal reactor and refugium, plenum, DSB, provide these chemicals? <Coupled with regular water changes, these items will help, yes!> Refugium, plenum, reactor etc. set up as learned on this site. All basic test results have shown excellent water conditions and am doing water changes biweekly. I have not tested for these chemicals but have added them per instructions. <I am a big believer in Bob's admonition to only add something in your system if you're gonna test for it. Just following the label could still be a problem if your system does not need it. Regular water changes, like you're doing-will do the job, IMO!> Trying to create as self sufficient, natural system as possible. <An admirable goal!> Main tank has 2 inches live sand, refugium crushed coral ,aragonite combo. Thank you, Paul. <Sounds fine, but I'd go with 3" or more or 1/2 inch or less of sand in the main tank. Two is not enough to support complete denitrification, but can create long term nutrient accumulation problems. Keep reading and learning. Enjoy!>

Kent Liquid Reactor Hey Guys! I have a 90 gallon tank with about 110lbs of live rock with lots of red coralline algae and 2 small LPS corals. My calcium level has dropped from 400 to about 340 which I'm thinking will likely continue to drop with growth of coral. I recently purchased Kent Liquid Reactor in hopes to have a balanced product that would take care of both calcium and alk.  I would like to get your opinion on whether this product is good or a waste of money?  Also, should it be used to just maintain calcium levels or will it raise them as well?  As always, thank you for your help! Derrick <Hi Derrick, Yes, your calcium will continue to drop as your system uses it.  You need to determine what your daily usage of calcium is and supplement that amount daily.  We recommend calcium dosing by dripping Kalkwasser, I doubt "liquid Reactor" will do what you need. To figure out how to use Kalkwasser search on Kalkwasser in the google search at the bottom of WetWebMedia.com  To raise your calcium to an acceptable level immediately my best advice would be calcium gluconate (Seachem Reef Calcium).  You still need to test and supplement alk and calcium separately as they are utilized at different rates. If "liquid Reactor" doesn't raise your calcium to 380-450 and alk at the proper rate when used as directed, then you need to act immediately and purchase something like Seachem reef calcium and follow the dosing directions to raise calcium to 380 minimum. I wouldn't delay.  Seachem Marine Buffer works great for alkalinity and buffer. Indiscriminately dosing these supplements without individual tests and doses will get you in trouble. Stay away from Kent liquid calcium, turbo calcium, etc. Don't forget alkalinity, it needs to be maintained at 3.5-5 meq/L.  IMO, I wouldn't use liquid reactor. Good luck!  Craig>

Buffers/Supplements Hey you guys... Thanks for the great site. I work in an LFS and really appreciate the information, pass it along to customers whenever I can, etc. <We are glad you have found it useful.> I have a couple questions that I can't find answers for among your FAQs and articles. Perhaps because they are "system specific" to some extent. Here is some information about the systems: I have two small twenty gallon tanks with liverock, invertebrates and fish. I change my water obsessively in both, usually twenty/twenty five percent once or sometimes twice a week. <Very good!> I use both filtered ocean water and synthetic mixes for these changes.   <I would go all synthetic.> Both systems have small back filters and small skimmers. One tank is soft coral dominated, with a Capnella, and two types of Sinularia. The other has hard-corals, with a large bubble, a frogspawn and a Blastomussa merleti. Each has a couple types of polyps colonies growing on the rocks as well. The soft coral tank contains a golden pygmy angel, a midas blenny and a kaudneri/Banggai cardinal. The hard corals tank has a similar fish load: a flame angel, a small Chrysiptera cyanea damsel and a mated pair of gold neon gobies. Both tanks have mated pairs of cleaner/fire shrimp as well. Obviously the tanks have significant bioload, but the water changes are easy for me since I work at an LFS. <I agree on the high bioload part, but your dedication to frequent, large water changes can work to compensate.> The constant water changes have kept my numbers near perfect, in spite of feeding my fishes liberally [though perhaps "adequately" is more accurate, since from what I can see, most reefkeepers/aquarists in general are slowly starving their fish to achieve good water quality]. <That was true, but I think sentiment has changed and many people are feeding their tanks appropriately.> I did elevate my alkalinity a bit too much recently, because of overzealous use of Kent's Superbuffer dKH to compensate for what I feared was the filtered seawater's inadequate buffering. Other than this, all has gone well, a fact I attribute to the water change schedule. After reading up on various topics, I have a few questions for you. First, I wondered if the different buffer systems of ocean and synthetic waters makes using both together in a single system as I do a bad idea. Should I stick exclusively to one or another? <I would use all synthetic water for the control. There is too much of a risk of pollution, pH problems, and other contaminants for me.> I combed your article/FAQs, but couldn't discover whether this could create potential problems like a pH drop. I am considering switching to synthetic mix exclusively, but can't decide if its worth it to give up the convenience of the filtered ocean water. <Making saltwater is not that hard. Having seen the protocols involved in making ocean water safe, synthetic seems much easier.> Your article's observation about the potential for the buffering capacity of natural seawater to collapse has me worried, especially since pH drop is an especially acute problem in small overloaded, well-fed systems like mine.   <I agree.> Second, I have been adding Kent's Liquid Calcium (calcium hydroxide), along with their Coral Vite product and their Iodine. <I don't believe Kent's Liquid Calcium is calcium hydroxide. On the contrary, I am pretty sure it is calcium chloride, a very different, problematic additive.> I believe I am going to switch to a B-Ionic system, dump the calcium hydroxide and the Superbuffer, so as to maintain a better calcium/alkalinity balance. <That would be better than what you are using now.> Should I add magnesium to the water as well, or will this be in adequate supply from water changes/B-Ionic? <Probably no need with your water change schedule and the B-Ionic, but a test kit would confirm.> I also wondered if I should continue supplementing the iodine and the Coral Vite. <I would continue to experiment with the Iodine, but lose the Coral Vite.> With my water change schedule should I skip these vitamin/nutrient supplements altogether? <You very well could.> Would switching to synthetic sea water for my water changes reduce the need for supplementation further? <It is the frequency and amount of your water changes that reduce the need for supplements. I would still make the switch to synthetic salt.> Do the different needs of hard and soft corals come into play here at all? <Only in the amount of B-Ionic you may or may not need. Again, testing and monitoring will show you.> Thanks for your help on this, Derek Milne <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Trace Elements I now use a calcium reactor with Korallith media, and I am wondering - with so many trace elements being dissolved, is there any need to continue adding bottled trace elements such as: Kent Marine Tech I, Kent Marine Essential Elements or any of the other additives I used before? <I am not a big additive fan to begin with. I only maintain calcium and alkalinity and experiment with iodine for my Xenia.> Is the calcium reactor taking care of pretty much all of this now? <That and water changes, though you may still want to dose iodine.> I know my calcium and alkalinity are great. Thanks! Steven Youngblood  <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Seachem Products I have just purchased some Seachem products and am a little confused. I am going to start using Reef Calcium, Reef Builder, Reef Plus, and Reef Kalkwasser. Can I dose all of these products at one time twice a week or do I need to alternate days? <I would alternate days or even use one in the morning and another in the evening.> Also, what is the difference between the Reef Builder and the Reef Kalkwasser? <Reef Builder is an alkalinity supplement (mostly forms of carbonates and bicarbonates), while Kalkwasser is calcium hydroxide.> These two products are confusing me greatly. Is it necessary to use both? <I dose with Reef Builder and Kalkwasser according to my levels confirmed through testing and monitoring.> Is it possible to overdose? <Yes> Thanks for any help you can provide. As always, you are very appreciated for sharing your knowledge. Thanks so much! :) Elizabeth K. Birdwell <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Step right up, my friends, My X, Y, Z potion will cure whatever ails you, your fishes, your... Not a question, just a comment. I recently was talked into buying a new Red Sea product called Coralgro. I bought it, got it home, and realized the ingredients were not listed on the bottle. I called Red Sea for the ingredients. Their response was "we are not required by law to list the ingredients, we are not sure what is in it but think it has phytoplankton in it." So they expect me to dump this stuff in my tank? <Of course!> Have you ever heard of it? <Sadly, yes. There are a ton of these sorts of magical elixirs. The market is saturated with them.> Thanks, Chuck <You have learned a valuable lesson, my friend. -Steven Pro>

Re: Supplement input Craig, Biomedia is stuff like Chemipure, etc? <No. Bioballs, sponges, etc. If it's sponge and you want it to filter particulate matter, then it needs to be cleaned at the very least, weekly. Most sponges, bioballs, media etc. produce nitrates from nitrites. LR and DSB's resolve this.> Do you like the Power Sweep power head that rotates? <No, and you won't either. They sometimes last a whole week!> What brand do you like for calcium? <I use SeaChem products as they are balanced and supply minor elements in proportion to the major element you are supplementing. IE: Seachem calcium also contains magnesium, strontium, etc.> What brand do you like for alkalinity? <Ditto, Seachem buffer or Reef Carbonate depending on what is happening with your pH. (read the labels) Kent makes a good buffer/carbonate builder as well> What brand do you like for iodine? <I'm not particular. I use Lugol's Solution according to test, label and response.> I hope this helps! Craig

Reef supplements can you recommend a good supplement that contains the trace, calcium, strontium and whatever else is needed for coral growth and health.  <one product is not possible for this purpose, my friend. Calcium and carbonates much be added separately and Iodine is an organic.<<? No. RMF>> So three is the minimum without doing daily water changes to replace minerals/elements> I hate to have 6 bottles to deal with if there's a good multi-supplement on the market thanks Robert <the easy route would be Bionic 2-part supplements and Iodine. The better route would be to include Kalkwasser with a calcium reactor, water changes and Iodine IMO. Best regards, Anthony>

Reef supplements can you recommend a good supplement that contains the trace, calcium, strontium and whatever else is needed for coral growth and health. I hate to have 6 bottles to deal with if there's a good multi-supplement on the market <<Even under the best of circumstances, you're still going to end up with more than one bottle. Many of these substances need to be stored separate from others so that they don't have their own private reaction party in the bottle, and in addition all have different dose amounts which just wouldn't work if they were all packed into the same bottle.>> thanks Robert <<Cheers, J -- >>

Alkalinity too high Dear Bob, <<JasonC today, greetings.>> We have a marine reef tank and I've checked ph, phosphates, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, calcium...everything checks out fine....but the alkalinity is reading 4.5. <<In dKH, that's a 12.6, so while on the upper end of practical it isn't really 'that' high.>> I've done partial water changes, added magnesium, but still cannot control alkalinity. <<I would stop adding anything [Kalkwasser, buffers, calcium, etc.] for a little while, perhaps consider how/why you are adding all this stuff beyond partial water changes.>> Calcium is at 450 ppm - (dosed with Kalkwasser) PH is at 8.2 Rest checks out to 0 to trace ppm <<Well... with the calcium and alkalinity both towards the higher end of the scale, you are on the precipice of a calcium precipitation event. I would stop with the Kalkwasser for a little while and examine other additives to make sure they aren't also boosting your alkalinity.>> What are we doing wrong? <<Hard to say without a little more information, like what else you add to the tank and how much, how often. I would also consider the possibility that your test kit is off so testing with another kit can at least be a good sanity check.>> Please advise... Drex <<Cheers, J -- >>

Precipitate in new tank: let it snow, let it snow, made it snow now I don't know what to do? I have tried searching the site and I cant seem to find what am looking for? is this water wasted already? can I add anything to make the precipitate dissolve? thanks for your help in advance Francis Perez <no worries here, my friend. Once the reaction runs its course, the precipitate is insoluble (practically) and harmless. Simply do another water change (25-50% perhaps) to dilute the imbalance and then resume slow additions of calcium (nightly) and buffer (by day) as necessary to reach targeted levels. Aim for 8-12 dKH and 350-425 ppm Ca. Remember...when in doubt, do a water change: "Dilution is the Solution to Pollution!" Best regards, Anthony>

Seachem Additives Hello my fish expert friends, This question is in reference to my 180 gallon reef set up. I religiously believe in Seachem Lab. products <I like many of their products, too.> and use just about everything they have to offer for reef aquariums. <That statement scares me a bit. I am more of the school of thought of only dosing what I can test for and monitor.> My question is: In what order should I add these chemicals? <It will vary in regards to what you are adding, some will interreact.> Should I add them all on separate days? <Several hours between should be enough> Or could I add them 20 minutes apart? <I would guess a bit too short of a time frame.> As it is right now, I am adding elements and supplements everyday. Is there a known method or schedule that would make life a whole lot easier? <Use less stuff> I use: Reef Complete, Reef Calcium, Reef Carbonate, Reef Buffer, Reef Iodide, Reef Strontium, Reef Trace, and Reef Plus. If you have any suggestions to solve my dilemma I would appreciate it greatly. Thank you in advance, TIM <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Supplements Can you recommend a good supplement that contains the trace, calcium, strontium and whatever else is needed for coral growth and health. I hate to have 6 bottles to deal with if there's a good multi-supplement on the market. Thanks, Robert <<Hi Robert, Thank you for writing! Craig here answering for the regular WWM crew while they visit MACNA. The two part systems work pretty good. I use B-ionic on my smaller systems. That'll cut you down to three bottles; part #1 & 2 plus a small dropper bottle of iodine. You can also replace most if not all necessary elements with regular water changes. Good luck! Craig>>

Additive confusion Hey guys, haven't bugged you for a while. Hope all is well. <A bit swamped from most of the crew attending MACNA> I've been reading your faq's on marine additives and I'm a little confused on what is best for my situation. My tank is a 55 gallon with 60 lbs of LR that has been set up and running for close to 2 months now (no fish yet, being patient). My pH-8.0, ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-0. I'd like my coralline to flourish and I may add a mushroom or two and small polyps eventually. That's all. What is the better additive for this setup? Kalkwasser? Is the Kent Marine 2 part system (Tech CB A&B) better for me? I'd appreciate some direction, thanks. <If you intend to stick with mostly soft corals, a two part would be fine. I also like dosing Kalkwasser. It is slightly more tedious, but much less expensive than the two parts.> Since I have your attention. What do you think of this stocking plan? I've done considerable reading on all these for aggressiveness/reef compatibility. A tomato clown, royal Gramma, Banggai cardinal, flame angel, yellow tang and cleaner shrimp. <Sounds fine.> Thanks so much! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Additives I was wondering if you have any thoughts, opinions or experience with Marc Weiss products. Thanks, Nick <<Hi Nick - Lorenzo here answering while the rest of our crew is at MACNA. None of us here use or recommend the Marc Weiss product line - most of us (myself included) refer to it as "snake oil". Though lately it appears they may be trying to release a few more "legitimate" products - the basics that have been offered for years by folks like Seachem and Kent, but with that special, magical additive - "Marc Weiss Marketing Spiel". Cheers, Zo>>

Re: Additives Wow . . .  talk about totally screwed up.  I thought since my alk is high and my PH is always near 8.6 that I didn't need to add other additives like B-ionic or Kalkwasser.  As for the B-ionic and Iodine versus Kalkwasser and buffer.  Do I need to do both, or is one or the other enough?  Which is best?  If I use Bionic regularly do I need to buffer my water with a commercial buffer or would baking soda suffice? Actually, how do I buffer the water before I add it for top off? How much Caulerpa is to much?  In my sump/refugium I have sectioned off an area 16"L x 12"W and half of it is completely full of Caulerpa and the other half is well on its way.  In addition I have Sargassum growing in the main tank that is nearly ready for pruning.  Is this too much? By the way, I am about to purchase both yours and Bob's books.  Again, thanks in advance. <<Hi Todd, Craig here while Anthony is away at MACNA..... Alkalinity and Calcium are two different matters my friend!  Add iodine and it's three! 1. You can use B-ionic and dose iodine, or 2. you can use Kalkwasser and buffer and dose iodine, or 3. you can use both B-ionic (follow label) and Kalkwasser and dose iodine (and maybe a touch of buffer still after testing). One part of B-ionic adds buffer and the other part calcium (plus all kinds of other elements). Either way I recommend a test for Alk, Calcium and perhaps magnesium. Seachem makes two tests that will do all three plus boron, I recommend something of that nature. B-ionic is a buffing/calcium and trace element system in a two parter.   It is still necessary to test regularly (weekly) to make sure you are where you want to be as far as calcium and alkalinity (to confirm the dose of B-ionic).  If you use Kalk in addition to B-ionic, follow the label directions, the dose is half as much. It isn't or shouldn't be necessary to add buffer in addition to B-ionic unless your tests show you are using more carbonates/buffer, in which case I would add a good balanced buffer like Seachem or Kent.   I use Seachem because it also replaces magnesium and strontium at balanced levels and Kalk use can affect magnesium levels. Your top off water should be heated to tank temps and aerated for several hours, then tested for pH.   I use SeaChem marine buffer for top off because they give a recommended dose to achieve a given result.  This is for the top off only and has nothing to do with using B-ionic in the tank. Make sure you monitor your pH when using Kalkwasser so you don't drive your pH too high.   Follow the directions exactly. This is true of B-ionic too which recommends not going over 8.4 on the label. I would keep your vegetation harvested back far enough for maximum growth.  If it crowds it will slow down and encourage the release of growth suppressors. I would shoot for maximum light exposure, when it's getting a too little dense for light to penetrate, cut it back. Ever notice how plants actually thrive when cut back?  That's where you want them. For iodine you might want to follow Anthony's suggestions as provided in his book.  The book is a huge help. I hope this explains it!  Good luck! Craig>>

Additives/supplements Hi-ya! Out of curiosity, are the additives/supplements that are sold for daily, weekly, bi-weekly dosings really necessary? <For some applications, iodine can be useful.> Does weekly water changes have enough of the trace elements in the salt mixes to really warrant adding more? <Weekly water changes would be far more beneficial to your tank's health than any combination of supplements.> I can understand adding calcium and the occasional buffer if needed, but why the trace stuff? Cheap money making ploy? Kim <You said it, not me. -Steven Pro>

Combi san Dear sir, <Hello> I read a response you gave to someone regarding excess additives. The writer asking the question on Coralline algae growth was dosing his tank with several additives, two of which were CombiSan and Coral Vite. In your answer you made mention of snake oil. You did not specify, but I deduced that it was these two you were referring to. Was that the case? I use CombiSan but would forgo its use if I thought for a second it was a problem. <Mmm, don't know who made the reference above. It is my opinion that Peter Wilken's CombiSan is a fine, "real" product. Weiss' "Vites" no. Bob Fenner> Thank you so much, William Snyder Stuart, FL (just north of Palm Beach)

Reef tank/marine supplement questions Hello Mr. Fenner, I always wanted to have a marine tank in my house but put it off until I read your book "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" 6 month ago in January 2002. I started my 75 gallon reef tank that month. The book is very well written and gave me the confidence to build a reef tank. I have several things to run by you, so please give any and all advice. Let me first tell you more about my tank setup. I do a 10% water change every 2 weeks on my 75 gal tank using Aquarium Systems Reef Crystals. I have 100lbs of Fiji live rock and 80lbs of live sand in the tank. My filter is a AquaClear Aquatics Pro 150 wet/dry which includes a protein skimmer. For lighting I have 1 48" CustomSeaLife PowerCompact SmartLight with the 50% daylight and 50% actinic lamps. <Hopefully, with four 55 watt lamps.> I also have 3 AquaClear 301 Powerheads in the tank for circulation. <Not very much water movement. The Hagen powerheads you have are nice, but small, each putting out about 150 gph for ~450 gph total. If that is all, you need more vigorous circulation, something for a total of 750-1500 gph depending on corals kept.> I have added 13 reef compatible fish slowly by using a quarantine tank. <Good for you!> I always quarantine fish for 3 weeks using SeaCure Copper treatment and Formalin. I currently have: 12 Hermit Crabs, 3 Emerald Crabs, 12 Astrea Snails, 1 Cleaner shrimp, 1 Pacific Blue Tang, 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Flame Angel, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Six-Line Wrasse, 2 Ocellaris Clownfish and 6 Blue Green Reef Chromis. All are doing wonderful in my tank, especially since I used a fishing rod and bristle worm trap to catch a Mantis Shrimp that got into the tank when I purchased the life rock. (It only took me 20 minutes to catch him once I identified what he was.) If I can add any more fish I would like to add something small that stays on the bottom of the tank like a Goby. Any suggestions? <You are definitely getting kind of crowded in there. A pair of Watchman or Neon gobies would be about all you could comfortably fit.> I also would like to add some coral, sponges or mushrooms. I want the most color and bang for the buck. I just added a Green Star Polyp and am probably going to add a green Bulb Anemone soon. <Resist the urge my friend until you are much more experienced and well read on the subject.> I am told the Ocellaris Clownfish will have a symbiotic relationship with this type of Anemone. <And also with many much hardier corals.> I would like to add other corals like the Finger, Leather, Cabbage or Colt coral as you suggested in your book. Any suggestions on this list? <The Colt is the most troublesome on your list.> Also several of the LFS near me say that I will need to supplement my tank with Tech-I Iodine, Super Strontium with Molybdenum and Concentrated Liquid Calcium (all of these are Kent Marine Products) when I start adding any coral or anemones. I told them that I do water changes and thought that would add sufficient trace elements into tank but they all say that isn't enough and that I must use these supplements. Please advise. <If you get into hard corals, you will need will to supplement for calcium and alkalinity. I would forgo the others in favor of 10% weekly water changes.> I certainly don't want to do anything that will be detrimental to the fish and inverts that I already have. Also the only company that has test kits for Iodine, Strontium, and Calcium is Seachem test kits. I assume if I must use supplements that I should use these test kits. <Yes exactly.> I am surprised that Kent Marine doesn't make test kits for their own products. Are there any seminars or conventions that you go to that are near Cincinnati, Ohio or Kentucky? <Do check for a local marine aquarium society, http://www.masna.org/. I think Cincinnati has a club.> I would be interested in attending if there are any. Also any monthly magazines that you write in or would recommend. <I like Freshwater And Marine Aquarium, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, and Aquarium Fish. There are also extensive archives on our site, http://www.WetWebMedia.com/.> Thanks for your time, Tom Schumacher <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> 

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