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FAQs about Marine Water Quality 2

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

Related FAQs: Marine Water Quality 1, Marine Water Quality 3 Marine Water Quality 4, 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,

A Cloudy Start (Particulate Matter In The Water Column) 7/11/05 I've just set up my first saltwater tank. <Excellent!> Its a 28 gallon hexagon with 27.97 pounds of live rock, about an inch and a half to two inches of sand, the salt mix already in it, and installed powerhead, protein skimmer, and  heater. Do I NEED a filter even though the live rock acts as a biological filter? <Good question. While the organisms on and in the live rock do provide some denitrification and biological processing of nutrients, it is advisable to have supplementary filtration in one form or another. A well-tuned protein skimmer is an excellent way to go. Essentially, what you are describing is what we call a "natural" system, which allows the organisms present in the live rock to do the majority of the filtration work, with the skimmer removing dissolved organics from the water. The use of a supplemental mechanical or chemical filtration system is optional, and depends on the needs of your animals and the comfort level you have with your husbandry techniques.> It's been a week and the sand has already settled, but I still see little particles floating around in the tank. Is this because I don't have a filter or is this natural? Please reply as soon as possible as I am waiting for your reply. -Colby <Well, Colby- the particles that you see in your system may certainly be some dust or fines from the sand, that have simply not settled out yet, or they could be some sort of bacterial bloom, or even algae. If this is something that is really bothering you, it might be a good idea to employ some sort of mechanical filtration (i.e.; canister filter, outside power filter, or even an inside air-driven "box" filter) to help clear things up. You can use this on a temporary or a permanent basis, as long as you pay careful attention to media replacement. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.> Mixed Up About Salt Mixing Hi guys, couple questions about adding salt. <Sure!> I am using Tropic Marin and was wondering how much salt per gallon of water should be adding when making up new water?  I have been adding 1/2 cup and it seems to be to much. < I am a Tropic Marin user, too. I use about 2 cups per 5 gallons, and that seems to yield a s.g. of 1.024-1.025 at about 79 degrees F.> Last thing I have been mixing about 20 gallons at a time in a Rubbermaid trash can...RO/DI water.. let aerate and heat for a day then I add Seachem buffers.  I then add the salt. <Great procedure!> Question is......when I add the salt to can it is clear (water) but after 3 to 5 days the water is still very cloudy, I continue to aerate the whole time, but it doesn't seem to ever clear out.. then when I do use the water there is a thick white film on the sides of the can that I have to rub/scrub the clean off.  The water in the tank does clear up though.  What do you think?  Thanks a lot Bryan <Good observation, Bryan. I notice this phenomenon at times, too. I think that it probably has something to do with some of the salt or buffer components not dissolving completely into the water, or perhaps, even falling out of solution.... As long as the water mixes up to the correct specific gravity, pH, and alkalinity, I would not be overly concerned. Keep up those water changes! Regards, Scott F>     

- Film on the Water - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I had a quick question.  I have a 240 G fish only set-up.  The tank has 6 fish, some live rock, and a couple very large Signature coral pieces.  The 240 is an upgrade from a long running 125 G.  The filtration includes a CPR sump/wet-dry combo filter (rated up to 400 Gallons), a 57 watt uv, and a Life reef Protein skimmer.  I am getting a whitish film on the water, in the center of the tank (probably because the two returns on either end of the tank are pushing whatever this film is towards the center) <Sounds pretty typical.> The protein skimmer is working like a champ.  I have had to empty it completely a couple of times since I plumbed it in.  All of the fish look very healthy, with the exception of my Clown Trigger.  Frayed fins and milky eyes. <That's not a good sign.> I assume that this is something bacterial, but also tend to believe that the culprit is the film on top of the water. <Bacterial, perhaps - caused by the film on the water, I highly doubt it.> I have read through the Q & A's on your site, and have read that this might be a build up of protein matter on the surface, but if this is so, why isn't the protein skimmer doing away with it? <Because you're not getting it down to the protein skimmer.> And why doesn't it seem to suck down the overflow box (it just seems to stay stagnantly on top of the water) <Because of the flow patterns in your tank - you might want to try repositioning those out-flows so that the surface is better agitated and in turn makes it to the overflows.> Thank you in advance for you insight Dave <Cheers, J -- >

Well water nitrate problems Hi WWM Crew!  I have a 55g FOWLR, 120g FOWLR and a 20g tank that is currently without fish but running.  I have had constant problems with high nitrates in all three of my tanks.  I recently changed from buying water from my LFS to mixing and storing my own salt water.  I store and mix the water in a 30g trash can with 2 powerheads constantly running.  I haven't yet, but I also intend to add a heater.  So far I have only been using the container for makeup water, so on my first run of using it for a water change, I mixed the salt and Amquel and let the water aerate for 2 days before doing a water change.  Immediately after doing a 20g water change to my 120g tank, I did a water test that indicated the nitrates were high in the tank.  I have the Saltwater Master Liquid Test Kit that uses a color chart for readings, so it's very hard to tell exact numbers, but let's just say it read that the nitrates were fairly high.  Anyway, after realizing that the nitrates were high in the tank, I tested the stored water.  I realize that I should've tested it before doing the water change, but I'm learning as I go.  : )   I found that the pH level was low, so next time I will buffer the water to bring it to 8.2.  I also found that the nitrites were high....this is where my query comes in.  My thinking on the issue is that by using Amquel to get rid of chlorine and ammonia, the ammonia is converting to nitrite during storage and then to nitrate in the tank.  Does this sound logical?  If so, what can I do to remedy the problem?  If this explanation doesn't sound right, what do you suggest?  Seeing that I have 3 tanks, it got to be quite cumbersome getting saltwater from the store, so I really want to learn to mix my own water.  Does this sound like a problem that a chemical tap water purifier could fix or is an RO/DI unit in order, or is there something else that I'm missing?  Thanks in advance for your help.  You guys are the coolest! <Hi Heather, I would bet my house your source water has nitrates, (not that unusual unfortunately).  You can test for nitrates out of the tap. Ammonia/nitrite would take much longer to break down to nitrate so in my estimation it's nitrates in your tap water. Please visit one of the WetWebMedia.com sponsors and shop them for a RO/DI or Kati/Ani unit to fit your needs. With RO make sure you factor water needs, pressure, temp, etc. Kati/Ani units waste less water and are not pressure or temp sensitive. The product water from these will be around 6-7 pH, so aerate and buffer to 8.3 and heat to tank temp.  Age at least 12 hours.  Hope this helps!  Craig>

Algae Film I have a 55 gallon reef tank which is matured for over two years. The tank contains four fish. Nothing has changed in the tank environment. Every two weeks I change the water by draining about 1/4 of the tank and add in seven gallons of distilled water with appropriate amount of salt. <<Are you premixing this batch or doing the mixing in the tank? If the latter, this is not really recommended - is much better to let the mix water age for at least 24 hours or more before addition to the system.>> The tank stayed clear for two weeks. Now I have discovered in the past three weeks the day after I clean the tank a green/brown film develops the next day or two after cleaning starting on the back of the tank and spreading to the sides. I scrape down the glass each cleaning. Any ideas how this problem may have developed and how to control the growth of this film. <<Unless you are distilling this water yourself, there is a good chance there has been a change in the supply. Perhaps they haven't cleaned the holding tank in a while. I don't really recommend distilled water as it often contains some things that are fine for human consumption but would wreak havoc with a closed marine system. Better to either obtain an RO/DI filter or even just prepare the fresh water in advance and let it sit for a couple of days with a pump in it... please read the following URL for more on this topic: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm >> The tank contains four fish. Thanks for your time and assistance. Regards, Cecilia <<Cheers, J -- >>

Snow Storm This was exactly what happened. Precipitate in new tank (let it snow, let it snow, made it snow) I just had something very strange happen to my tank. I tried to search the FAQ's but did not immediately find the answer to my problem. On Monday (two days ago) I filled up my new 75 gal reef-ready tank with sump with RO water and added Instant Ocean salt mix. <whoa, bub! Was the RO water aerated(12-24hrs), then buffered(6-12 hrs), then salted (mixed 12+hrs)? Else, we have a slight problem with alkalinity depletion.> I started the pumps running (Mag 7 return and Mag 5 on an AquaC EV120 skimmer) and have left the tank pretty much alone since then. The salt seemed to dissolve well overnight and the tank has been clear. The skimmer was disconnected last night but turned on again this morning. There is nothing in the tank other than water. This evening the tank is very cloudy. It looks like there's a haze in the tank. However, if you look up from the bottom towards the light you can see that it is actually some very small white particles swirling in the water. I guess something precipitated and is just floating in the water. <perhaps a Ca/Carbonate snowstorm/precip> Is this harmful? <likely not too bad... please turn on the skimmer> Is there something I can do to get rid of it? <check your alkalinity and free calcium levels. Target 12dkh ALK and 400+ Ca. If you are lower than 8 dkh and 350ppm Ca, then there was a precip problem and you simply need to do a proper water change to dilute and reconstitute> I have some live sand and Florida aquacultured live-rock on order, scheduled to ship and arrive on Friday. This rock has a lot of life and should only be out of the water for 4-5 hours so I was hoping a lot of life would survive. <likely would be fine anyway... but a water change would give you peace of mind...read archives here on WWM about R/O water, mixing salt, buffers, etc to get a better understanding why the need for aerating first, then buffer, then salt.> I can have the shipment held, if my tank is in trouble. <little trouble if any... minor> Thanks for your help. I never expected this to happen without adding anything to the tank. Henry <best regards, Anthony> Now I don't know what to do? I have tried searching the site and I can't seem to find what I'm looking for? Is this water wasted already? Can I add anything to make the precipitate dissolve? Thanks for your help in advance, Francis Perez <<Hi Francis, Your water is fine, you need to do a few things to get straightened out. One, run the skimmer and a filter if you have one.  A filter will remove the floating precipitate. Another way is to stop all circulation in your bare tank the precipitate will settle to the bottom and you can vacuum it out. Once you have that cleared up, test, as Anthony already suggested for calcium and alkalinity and supplement as necessary to bring calcium above 400 and alk 4-5 meq/L. Double check the water pH and your in. Get it heated, circulated, and get ready for your shipment. Next time, aerate and heat your water in a separate container (for the time period Bob provides below) like a rubbermaid trash can, check the pH and add buffer as needed, then slowly add salt as the water is circulating in the tub/can so it dissolves as you add it.  This should help prevent precipitate. Let it age in the tub/can overnight THEN add it to your tank.  If it happens again, just filter or settle it out, test, supplement as necessary, and go for it. HAVE FUN!!!! Craig>>

newbie <<Hello, JasonC here...>> I have learned a lot from reading all your info you are a great source of help. well now to my question I have all normal levels I bought the test kits like you recommended. The concern I have like most, it my alk. level. Its 40 ppm and the more I try to get it higher the more I raise my ph I have been using kalkwasser for my top off water should I use baking soda with that to help my problem? <<I would put the question to you, what are you keeping that requires higher alkalinity? Unless you are keeping stony corals or clams, you really don't need to be super-concerned with alkalinity. Kalkwasser will not raise your alkalinity, but it will raise your pH as evidenced by that 8.8, which is rather high for a saltwater system. I would stop the kalkwasser for a little while and just let the system run on its own for a while. Then, if you are still trying to bring up the alkalinity, use baking soda or a commercial buffer.>> thanks. ph=8.8 sg=.023 calcium=? alk=40 ppm <<Cheers, J -- >>

RE: Disease question Thanks for your response. I recently tested the water and everything looked good. The only thing I haven't tested is alkalinity. The pH has been about 8.0 and doesn't seem to fluctuate. <I am sorry if I was not clear. If I am to be of any assistance I need the actual information. The numerical results of every test you have/can perform is crucial. Saying everything looked good is pretty useless to me/us. Also, when recording/testing pH it is best to do so twice during the same day; once first thing before the lights come on to establish your low value and second right before the light go off. This gives you the daily variation. Lastly, telling us the brand of test kit used can also be helpful in evaluating the accuracy of the results. So, send me the numbers of everything you can test for; pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, alkalinity, salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, etc. Anything and everything is useful.> There has been a lot of scratching going on with this as well. The other fish are eating, but not as well as they usually do. Seems like there is just some discomfort with them. The damsel came down with this right after a water change and since I've been using LFS saltwater, things haven't been the same. I'm beginning to question the quality of their water (the jugs tend to look a little dirty and some algae growth inside). The tank water looks good and parameters are well within range. <Within what/who's range? See my point?> I've been doing water changes regularly, so I don't know what I could be doing wrong. <How often and how much each time?> I had a very weak skimmer in this system and replaced it a few days ago with a new Aqua-C Remora, hoping this would control my hair algae problem and improve the water quality. <This tells me something was or is out of whack, mostly the hair algae.> I used to use the LFS's freshwater and make up my own saltwater. I think I may try going back to this and doing another water change. Do you have any other suggestions or know what I could do to try to bring the health back to my grouper? <Again sorry, but not with the information given.> Thanks for your help. Tim

Re: Disease Question Hi again, sorry for the lack of info before. Hopefully I have what you need. Here are my findings: Tank capacity 90 gallons pH High: 8.1, Low: 7.9 <This is not helpful. Perhaps not the cause of your troubles, but could be a contributing factor.> S.G. 1.022 Ammonia 0 ppm Nitrites 0 ppm Nitrates 10 ppm Temperature 78*F Livestock: foxface rabbitfish 5" panther grouper 4.5" Queen Angel 4.5" picasso trigger 4" cleaner wrasse 2.5" Right now that is all I can test using a FastTest (SeaTest) test kit. My water changes have been about once per month and around 15 gallon. <Modest amounts and frequency, IMO. If monthly, I like much bigger changes, 50%, but 10-15% weekly is safer.> I've never seen my Nitrates over 20ppm. I had a bad hair algae problem which I think was due in part to my lack of a good protein skimmer. <Quite probable> My photoperiod was 12 hours which I reduced to about 7 hours after my last thorough cleaning to rid the system of hair algae. It was after this last cleaning/water change when things worsened. <The hair algae or the fish? I think you are talking about the fish.> I also added Coralline Stimulator to the water after the cleaning to help with growth of coralline algae. <Not familiar with this product.> I am careful not to over-feed. Filtration is done using a Fluval 203, Aqua Clear 300, and a Skilter 400 which was replaced this week with the new skimmer. <Very modest filtration and circulation, probably not even 500 gph in a 90 gallon tank. Again, another contributing factor?> Also, a point of interest is there is a thriving community of some type of tunicate growing on structure and in the filters. They are everywhere really. <This is a clue to excess feeding or organics. These are filter feeders that have to be eating something to be reproducing in such a manner.> Please let me know if you need any other information. The grouper isn't looking any better and is taking some abuse from tankmates. I don't think he's going to make it and I'm fearful about the Queen angel. Signs of this are showing around the eyes and head, but for now seems ok behavior-wise. I hope you can tell me what this is or where it's coming from. <I reread your previous emails in light of the new information and I still think it is a water quality issue. Your symptoms do not scream out any particular disease; one fish with a cloudy eye and all fish with a depressed appetite and general lethargy. I would perform a big water change in the 50% range and see if that makes a difference. Please search www.WetWebMedia.com regarding the proper conditioning and mixing of saltwater to minimize the stress on your fish; matching temperature and salinity, assuring maximum dissolved oxygen levels, removal of chlorine/chloramine, etc.> Thanks for your help so far, and for what you can provide. Tim <Wish I could be a little more definitive, but the water change should help regardless of the exact cause. -Steven Pro>

Salinity Dear Mr. Fenner, I got salinity reading of 1.020 at 80 degree F in my newly established 120 gl system. There are 2X 250W MH 6500K and 2X40W actinic blue. There are live rocks that came with macro algae, small soft coral and anemone. I plan to keep soft coral and hardy invertebrates. It has been only almost 1 week and already seen rapid growth of micro algae (hair algae.) I have imposed activated carbon and phosphate guard hopefully will keep it in control. <Do you have measurable phosphate, other nutrient that you hope to diminish?> Is my salinity too low? How high should I adjust it when taking readying at 80 degree F? <Depends on what degree F, C, your hydrometer was calibrated at... I would adjust the salinity up to 1.025 over a couple of weeks> I read from your book the hydrometer is calibrated at 60 degree F and I should keep my salinity reading by 0.002 down at 80 degree F. <Not all are> Is it safe to say that I should keep the measurement at 1.021 if I intend to keep the salinity at 1.023 when measured at 80 degree F? <Again, do check with the manufacturer, your accompanying documents with the instrument. Some are calibrated for tropical temperatures. Bob Fenner>

Newbie Continues to Struggle with Water Bob, First let me say that I have been into saltwater for about 9 months now and your site is like my bible, so thanks.  <thank you, my friend... pass a good word along if you will> I wish I could say that my 9 month journey has been perfect and completely uneventful, however this is a challenging hobby and we all know that everything doesn't go perfectly or everyone would do it. With that said I will say (Knock on wood) I have had very good luck thus far, but continue to struggle with water issues. <no worries... common and all easily correctable> I have a 55 gallon reef tank with minimal equipment. I have a SeaClone skimmer, and emperor 400, standard heater, and a powerhead.  <do consider upgrading that skimmer ASAP and do extra water changes in the meantime> As far as livestock and what not I have a crushed coral substrate about 2.5 " deep and 80lbs of liverock.  <be sure to siphon this gravel frequently... weekly if possible. At this depth it is likely to become a nutrient sink in time. Deep fine sand is fine over 3" deep (preferred in fact) but crushed coral is too course and traps much detritus. Best at 1/2" or less> I have a beautiful Powder Blue Tang, a Yellow Tang, a Red Fairy Wrasse, Bicolor Blenny, and a Domino Damsel that seems very domesticated. I have an incredible green dotted frogspawn, a single head of branching Hammer, a bunch of frags including xenia, mushrooms, star polyps. I have a HUGE leather, and a rather large colony of button polyps, a bubble coral, and a couple pink tips just for fun. <yowsa... you sure have a lot for only a 9 month old tank. I'm surprised you haven't had nuisance algae problems with regard for the weak skimmer (does not yield a dark cup every day I presume), deep course media and fast stocking... Still, I'm glad for you and suspect good husbandry is to your credit> Now for the meat... My current test show Salinity .021, PH 8.2, Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates, at 0. Phos at .25 - Always seems to hang in this area for some reason.  <if not in your source water it is from feeding/heavy fish load> I use a Phos media every once in a while to keep Phos down. I show a HINT of copper in the water but do not show any in my main water supply? Weird.  <add a Polyfilter to sop up such metallic residuals> It's not 0 but it's not to the first mark either. My corals and pink tips are fine and if anything my corals are doing great as best I can tell. My leather has already dropped a baby and I am raising the little frag well now for months. N E Ways my real issue comes with frustration of not being able to grow coralline algae.  While I have been adding calcium RELIGIOUSLY according to directions, <Calcium AND carbonates (buffer) are necessary for calcification> my level was only 100 according to LFS (but let me say I don't think the lady did it right I calculated it at 300 - But either way its low! <no exactly, my friend. Yes...100 is an impossibly low number. Clearly a misreading. But 300 is not at all low. Hardcore sps keepers target calcium at over 400ppm but this can be dangerous with a high ALK level and must be balanced carefully. And even if you could get it that high, if you ALK is low, you still wont grow a thing. Aim for a moderate level of both (350-425ppm Ca and 7-12dKH Alk/carbonate hardness) and you will do just fine. You might also add Seachem Reef calcium for the next four months to grow AMAZING corallines. It is practically useless for coral growth IMO, but awesome for corallines> They calculated my Magnesium at some incredibly ridiculous low amount like below 100. <hmmm... yes, could contribute... but don't get too frisky with Mag for fear of killing off every mollusk in the system> First off is that possible on the Magnesium, doesn't salt water have some in it naturally?  <yes... these numbers are inaccurate from the LFS. Have them check a fresh batch of seawater to see what they get...heehee> Obviously from the above I have the first set of tests and do not have the calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity test (I know I should get them).  <as a reef keeper, it would be the responsible thing to do before you buy another living animal. Get a good book too while you are at it. Also read online the worked of Dr. Craig Bingman (all over the net.. do a keyword search on Google) My problem is I know enough to know that Alk, Mag, and calcium all go hand in hand but what I don't know is what to fix first, second, last and HOW? <regular water changes alone replenish all necessary items in a balanced ratio... do consider small weekly water changes for starters> I know there is some cagey information here but can you help? Need any more specifics let me know? Thanks ,Jason <water changes, test kits and then dosing (as per test readings) with kalkwasser and SeaBuffer or a two part supplement like B-Ionic. Kind regards, Anthony>

Tank Update Hi Anthony, I just wanted to update you on the 125g reef water change. I changed another 50 gallons on Friday, I thought I'd let the water mature for 5 days before changing in hope that it would provide a better starting pH.  <very fine... likely longer than necessary, but no harm> If you remember my tank's Calcium and pH were down considerably and the water changes were an attempt to raise them and get rid of my accumulated pollution. <yes... and have you been following the recent posts about depressed pH and well insulated houses? Do purse a window open slightly and see if that alone does not raise the pH> Here are where my tank is at. Total water change over last two weeks 100 gallons. ORP is now at steady around 354 (225 starting 2 weeks ago if you remember).  <actually nicely in the ballpark> Calcium has been at 360 to 380 over last week, DKH steady at 11 to 12. <perfect!> However as of today Monday my pH is still low and had been ranging from 7.77 in the AM to about 7.81 at the highest night before the lights go out at night.  <do try opening a window...seriously! Just slightly and test the pH an hour or two later: Likely higher!> My make up water was aerated for 24 hrs, then buffered with Seachem Marine Buffer for 24 hrs, then salt added and matured for 4 days. The make up water PH just before adding on Friday was 7.73, DKH=11 Ca=460. I even had my friend come over with his new Milwaukee PH meter to compare with my new Pinpoint and they were within .1 of each other. So finally the question... do I start to add in Seachem Marine Buffer to raise the PH to 8.3? Any ideas as to how to raise and keep high? Why do you think after all the water changes my PH is still low? (however my other parameters that were out of whack are now much better and stable!) Thanks in advance and for all your help up to date! Larry <if a test of sample water aerated vigorously does NOT raise pH after 6-12 hours, then you do not have a problem with CO2 in the system... it may be an atmospheric issue from summertime air-conditioning and well insulated houses. Do let me know if this has impacted you too. Anthony>

Re: Tank Update I should have mentioned that you asked me to try the aerated water last week and it did not change. I aerated a 2 gallon sample for 6 hours with a power head. Then as you suggested try a venturi, ...after 10 hrs with a venturi the PH was stable at 7.75, starting PH 7.74 after 10 hrs venturi aeration 7.75.  <ahhh...yes> We are however experiencing the warmest summer on record 90-100 degrees steady. My central air has been running for the last three weeks or more with only one break for one evening. Can you elaborate on the atmospheric issue from summer air-conditioning?  <simply purse a window open slightly and watch your pH rise. Do follow up on recent FAQs if you like (Google search of WWM too)> My house is not what I would call well insulated like R2000, but it is not poor either. <likely an issue... trust me, open the window and test before and after 2 hours :)> BTW the Xenia I bought when I thought my pH was O.K. is still hanging on and does not seem to be suffering, however I would not call two weeks survival a success. Thanks Larry <sounding good! Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Make up water Hi Anthony, a few days have past with my new meters, and I am seeing a depressed PH that is starting to scare me. Up to now I have changed about 50 gallons of water in my 125 g tank, and have another 15 g ready to go.  <do make a larger water change like the last one... 15G is hardly enough to make a dent in a problem that requires dilution> The pH in my tank is still dropping (recalibrated meter to be sure it was accurate). Yesterday the PH in the AM was 7.62 and rose slowly to 7.82 by 8:30 PM ( I did add a very small amount of Kalk to help raise the PH). The Calcium and DKH are stabilizing and are now at 340 and 11 respectively. This morning I find the PH at 7.58...ouch! My ORP has been rising with the water changes and is now at 347. My corals look fine.  <exactly... even with the low pH, slow changes are fine and this is the lesser of two evils. Fussing too much with Alk and Ca like a seesaw is a good way to kill coral and fish. Simply have faith in the water changes/dilution in time to get you in a reasonable ballpark and only after a series of these w/cs and stable readings then resume supplementation> I wanted to add some Xenia to my tank and bought a small specimen last week, and am really scared I'll kill it at this PH.  <it really was a bad move. Xenia are very sensitive to low pH. But now that you have it... please don't stress it with another move. Just a few more big water changes to get back on track> Interestingly it was pulsing slowly last night at this depressed PH. Any thoughts as to why my PH might be so low even after water changes?  <it is natural until all salts dissolve. Still... not the main issue here either. Two more water changes and then back to Ca and Alk supplementation. Kalk or Baking soda if not a Calcium Reactor> I have good circulation in my tank, I tried the probe in all depths and locations and the PH remains constant. Thanks Larry <have you tried aerating a sample of water and seeing if the pH rises after 6-12 hours. If it rises... you have a CO2 problem. Not enough aeration. Kindly, Anthony>

Make up water Hi Anthony, I was testing some more new make up water and found the following. R/O water buffered to DKH 4 after aeration.  Add salt, wait 24 hours and check Calcium 420 mg/l, DKH 12, temp 78. <very fine!> All looks good but I thought I should verify the PH.... it's 8.0?  <not surprising for new seawater... even more mixing/time will raise pH> With a new mix I thought I should get at least 8.2.?? Is this O.K. for new water or do I need more Kalk or buffer?  <just see if regular Kalk doses in the tank get it up high enough (should). I'm afraid at these levels If I add anything I'll precipitate out the carbonates as I did early this week. Thanks Larry <good heavens no! they really are nicely in the ballpark already! don't believe all of the sps reefer hype of max Alk and Ca levels...only serves... not needed for all>

Salt Water Anthony I use Instant Ocean salt for water change RO Water is aerated for a week then add SeaChem buffer then salt.  <a week is much longer than necessary. In fact, aerated for that long you might lose/tie up some carbonates (CO2 in air...insoluble calcium carbonate formed). Mixing for a day or two is fine... longer than that dark storage is recommended> Each time I did it this way carbonator drop out. Used three different Instant Ocean salts. RO water test from the lab was ok. Hope you get the new book finish soon gave me a call when you do. RGibson <excellent, my friend... the second volume of my book might get slightly delayed. Finishing a collaboration on the first volume of a series with Bob Fenner and Steve Pro... full color illustrated Reef Invertebrates... then fish and corals :) kindly, Anthony>

Cloudiness Hi Guys - I seem to be having a really hard time getting my tank clear - <age of the tank, specific water chemistry numbers, any new live rock or fishes, etc?> there appears to be a fine smoky precipitate in the water that I can't clear up - I have a 105 gallon mostly fish tank, a couple of feather dusters and a couple of anemones - all healthy. I have good protein skimming and a wet dry filtration system My numbers are all good I think - as of at last testing. I've been using Kalkwasser for about a month now and have since stopped because I believe it to be the culprit -  <not so... if Kalk was precipitating your carbonates you would have a sudden and severe snowstorm in 24-48 hours and massive die-offs> despite repeated water changes I can't seem to get my Calcium below 600 -  <600ppm is essentially impossible. One really cannot dissolve much more than 450-500ppm of Ca. Your test kit is inaccurate my friend. The cloudiness may be a biological haze. Take a glass of water out and see if it clears on its own in 6 hours (precipitate) or longer/not at all (biological likely)> any ideas thoughts -is this whitish cloudiness a calcific precipitate and if so how do I resolve it? - Thanks - Graeme <best regards, Anthony>

RE: Cloudiness Anthony - Thanks for your prompt reply. Tank is 18 months old.Sg =1.023,Alk normal, pH 8.2 temp 78.6 nitrates/ites almost zero, NH4 = zero! How does one resolve a biological haze? I have a tidepool sump wet dry filter and have been trying charcoal/micron filter pads etc with very limited success - any suggestions - thanks again - really appreciate the help - regards - Graeme <with consideration for the invertebrates... ozone or U.V sterilization are very effective and safe when properly applied. Mechanical filtration will do nothing. Often it will go away on its own. If you want to confirm... try some "Filter Aid" in a sample of water in a glass. Alas... it (potassium Permanganate) is not reef safe. Best regards, Anthony>

Follow up (juggling calcium hydroxide... alkalinity vs. calcium concentration... pH...) Hi Again, since I sent the email last night I tried Anthony's Kalk slurry. Start DKH 15, Calcium 280, PH 7.96 @ 4:40 PM At 6:00 PM I added 10 teaspoons of Bio- Calcium. At 8:30 PM, PH 7.95 I added 1/16 tsp Kalk to 1 cup water , I waited 5 minutes then measured PH=8.02, added 1/8tsp to 1 cup PH 8.03, I continued the 1/8 tsp up to the 6th cup where my PH was at 8.07. This morning at 8:30 AM lights off I measured PH 7.98 Calcium ~320 great! but DKH 19!!?? Why with Kalk additions is my DKH rising so much? (or is it the Bio-Calcium?).  <exactly, my friend. Kalkwasser only provides free calcium and does not directly contribute to alkalinity. However, the caustic nature of calcium hydroxide (high pH of Kalk) indirectly supports the buffering reserve/pool of a system. Thus, use of Kalk tempers the need for as much Alk supplements and such supplements may be observed to "work" better when used. So... you need to ease up (not stop per se) on the buffer until you fine a good balance (perhaps Kalk daily and buffer 2-3 times weekly all depending on the rate of calcification in your system> Now I'm afraid to add anything as I know DKH is this range is bad news. Any ideas would be really appreciated.  <perhaps one good sized water change (unbuffered) of say 20-30% to bring the dKH down a little and then Kalk only for the next several days to raise Ca without impacting alk much (Kalk cannot raise Alk, only support what is there...dissolving Arag sand, calc reactor, etc). After a couple of days resume testing dKH and supplement as/if necessary> Larry <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Sudden fish deaths Hello Anthony, <cheers, mate> Thank you very much for your quick respond. It is great to be able to get this professional help from you. I really appreciate your help. <quite welcome> Going back to my problem, I did 10gal water change three weeks ago and 5gal water change one week ago. Do I need to do more severe water changes?  <yes... those are very modest amounts. I'm talking about 50% or more several times within a month. If you were confident in your water quality and doing large water changes (good husbandry: you aerate FW first 12+ hours, then buffer and mix 6-12+ hours, then salt and mix, etc)... then a single large water change of nearly 100% could be done (same temp, pH, SG, etc). But if you want to play it safe... do several "smaller" at 50%> I have changed the Carbon of my Aqua Clear 200 twice this month. <that is very good... but do consider resins or resin pads like Poly Filter too.. very helpful for soaking up nasties in the water (better than carbon in many ways)> When you say "too sudden to be a primary pathogen" means that is not good idea to medicate the tank because it is not a parasite or bacteria? <so far, yes. We cannot medicate if there isn't a clear disease symptom. And 4-5 days of looking "fine and healthy" then sudden death on 6th day does not indicate a disease as a primary cause> The tank has a lot of copepods that I've seen at night with a flash light; that is not a problem, right? <nope... very beneficial! And please do not EVER medicate this tank. Any/all meds are best in separate bare-bottomed quarantine tank if necessary> I feed the guys frozen formula one and prime reef. I used to put some peace of the cube in a spoon with water to help me to smash it and I don't wait too much (2 minutes) to put the food in the tank. Is there a problem if the food is too cold? <no problem> I am going to measure the nitrates again but as far as I remember, the last time (two weeks ago) the test result was no nitrate. <ah, yes... likely fine then... another perhaps untestable toxin> By the way, I had some "red slime" explosion some time ago but now everything goes normal. <likely unrelated unless blue/green slime lingers which can be toxic> Thanks a lot again, Best regards, Rodrigo. <kindly, Anthony>

Sudden fish deaths Hello Bob, <Cheers, friend... Anthony Calfo in your service> I've had a reef tank for one year now and something is not very good right now. It is a 30gal tank with the following stock: One Medium percula clown One Medium Coral Beauty Angelfish One Cleaner shrimp (the one with two red lines in the back) One Cleaner shrimp (the one that is named fire red or something) Snails and Hermit crabs One green star polyps One colt coral One toadstool leather Two flower leather Everybody is doing very good right now, Coral and fish are beautiful. Two months ago I had some problems with the mate clown, a starfish, and a bicolor blenny. All of them died. The Female clown last more that the other two but finally after two weeks with something like ick, died. Water chemistry is fine. I have a protein skimmer, power filter, power head for circulation ... The thing is that right now I have tried to add a single new fish with no success. <if there are no specific disease symptoms with the death of new fishes while established fishes continue to live, it often suggests that a normally innocuous parameter has strayed high (like nitrates). The established fishes got acclimated to it slowly but the new fishes are thrown into the high level> First I tried a small percula to be with the one that is alone now and everything was ok the first 4 days, I mean, the fish was eating and swimming with the other clown with no fight at all. The 5th day the fish didn't look very good (a thing I could see a little ick or something) and the 6th day the fish was dead on the sand. <yes... too sudden to be a primary pathogen> After that I tried a Royal Gramma with exactly the same results. <also a normally hardy fish> Then another Gramma Loreto and the same thing. Eating very well, swimming all over the places and in the 5th day more or less, kind of ick and suddenly died. The rest of the stock is very healthy with no exception. Is something in the water? How come the old guys are very good? <as above, yes.. strong possibility> Do you thing one of the shrimp is aggressive at night with the new guys? <very unlikely> I will appreciate your help. <do consider doing several large water changes over the nest few weeks to dilute the tank of a possible toxin. Also add some fresh carbon and or a Poly Filter (very helpful for such mysterious situations> Thank you very much, Rodrigo. <best regards, Anthony>

Fwd: FAMA to WWM from... re LaMotte test kits, water quality... Ms. Crews: I was referred to your website by the LaMotte Company, who thought you might be able to help us with some water quality problems we are having with our 300 gallon museum display tanks. Can you refer me to someone who is familiar with water quality and chemistry? Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. <Fire away my friend. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com> Kristen Schmid Senior Animal Keeper The Newark Museum Mini-Zoo 49 Washington St. Newark, NJ 07102 (973)596-6671

Tapwater & Copper I just got my annual tap water report from the local water company and wanted to pass a long some information for those still considering whether or not they should invest in a RO or DI unit. The Federal standard for copper in drinking water is 1.3 ppm. That is the action level, defined as, "The concentration of a contaminant, which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or requirements, which a water system must follow." In plain English, the copper level can get as high as 1.3 ppm before they are required to take measures to lower it. The average of 50 household sampled this year was 0.23 ppm, still plenty high enough to kill any and all invert life. -Steven Pro <Thanks for this... the federal level has "gone up" over the years. I recall it being 0.5 ppm free cupric ion, then 1.0... Bob Fenner>

Tap Water Purifier Bob, <Steven Pro in today.> I saw a product called tap water purifier at my LFS. I don't know the exact name I have seen it advertised on a couple of web sites. Is this a good product to use when trying to control algae growth? <The Tap Water Purifier is a deionization unit. This is a different method of cleaning tap water, similar to a reverse osmosis unit. It would be helpful in controlling algae, but if your tank is 55 gallons or larger, you would be better served by buying a RO unit or a larger separate resin DI unit. You can read more about these different technologies at the www.WetWebMedia.com> I am developing a system to replace evaporated using a electronic float sensor. The problem I am having is finding a good electronic float sensor. Can you help me? <I have never used one, as I shy away from unnecessary items that could break or malfunction. I just use a simple drip method for top off. That said, there are various manufacturers that make units, such as Spectrapure. Perhaps ask some fellow hobbyists for their personal recommendations.> I will send you a layout of what I am doing to give to others. <Thank you. Always good to see other options/opinions.> Thanks <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tap water filtration Hi again <Hello> Firstly, thanks for your advice about my six line wrasse (the lump and small white growth), I am happy to report he is still going and the lump is nothing more than a faint discoloration which is getting less visible by the day. <Ah, good> Hope you don't mind me asking for some more help (not long since the last request, I know!). <No worries> I currently make up water change batches like this: Filter 30l of water into a wine making vat using my Aquarium pharmaceuticals tap water filter It is heated and aerated with a large air stone and pump and when it reaches 25c I begin mixing the salt (Tropic Marin) until the salinity matches my display tank (1.022). When I tested the water I found that the PH was 8.6 and even after leaving the water to "age" for 1 week, this remained high (spg still 1.022 and temp 25c). <Not atypical... most all synthetic salt mixes are "boosted" for alkalinity, elevated pH. Tropic Marin is at the apex of quality> What is strange is that before using the TF, I used normal tap water with Tetra Aquasafe to bond the metals and clear the Chlorine (UK - we are still using that stuff) and the PH always came out at 8.3 <Yes... interactions with materials in your tap/source water...> Now my tank obviously started life at 8.3 and has remained at that constantly until I have started to do changes with the new ph 8.6 tap water after which the ph gradually climbs to 8.4. <All a matter of buffering capacity and nature (yours). Do read about the topics of alkalinity, pH, buffering... and how they're interrelated: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm> This worries me greatly, I don't really understand why it is so different and even after reading the FAQ on sea water prep, ph, alkalinity and others I am a bit unsure what I can do. I know if the PH is low I can use a buffering product....but if its high.... <You can/could add an acid... but please don't do this, or worry. Do just make your water changes (frequent, small percentage... described in protocols on WWM) as usual. No problem> Is it a problem for the ph to climb to 8.6 in the tank and remain that way (it will of course take some time, only doing 10% changes per week). <No. You will likely find that the small amount of buffering capacity that is "holding" the pH of the newly made water will "drop" (become exhausted, absorbed, altered) with addition to your main/display system> The LFS told me to buy an RO/DI unit as that would cure the problem but that sounds dubious and I don't like the 3 to 1 ratio of water production very much. <Up to you. Please read through here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rofaq2.htm> Can you offer some advice? <Read the above areas through. No need to be overly concerned here> Thanks for being patient, Andrew <And you for your sharing. Bob Fenner>

White precipitate in new tank?? Hi Bob, Steve, Jason, Anthony, (I'll wildly guess Steve??) <Anthony Calfo in your service> Yet another question this week. I tried posting this on the WWF and got 1 response from Steve. I just put my water (left aerating a day); added salt (IO) with no problems. However, the pH was quite low (around 7.0), probably because I use DI water.  <yikes...first problem: aerate first 12-24 hours to drive off carbonic acid...THEN add buffer to R/O or DI water (so as not to waste buffers in expensive sea salt) THEN add salt or use as evap water top off> So I added buffer, in this case Kent Buffer. After a couple days of use, I have white stuff everywhere-- bottom of tank, sides of tank, in the water, on the powerheads, etc. There is no rock or substrate-- just water.  <yep... calcium carbonate. Sounds like you added too much buffer. Not likely harmful, but probably insoluble (useless)> Readings now (no ammon, nitrites or nitrates done as there would be nothing to cause them)-- Temp 79; SG 1.0235; pH 8.1; alk (well don't exactly know- but this is a Fastest and it took 11 drops, I lost the instructions in the move, but I think that makes it 5.5mg/L), CA (also not sure of CA as one bottle of test stuff looks like it has separated) got test result of 285. I am not adding CA. Except in whatever form it is as buffer. <there may not be any in your buffer. Buffers add carbonates (alkalinity) while other supplements add calcium. The two compounds are drawn separately in seawater in skeletogenesis for calcification (forming calcium carbonate). Your calcium is way to low and your alkalinity is too high. It really sounds like you added way too much buffer and skewed the Ca/ALK dynamic. Do several large (proper as per above) water changes to get the numbers in better balance. Then add SeaBuffer (by day if necessary) and kalkwasser (by night) to reach target 350-450 ppm calcium and 10-12dKH alkalinity (say 4 meq/l)> As for chemistry did a little experiment and took a cup out and added vinegar. The stuff did mostly dissolve. However, I am not just interested in the chemistry-- but... Now what do I do? I have been trying to keep the white stuff stirred up and am using filter floss in the power filter. This has helped a bit. Other thoughts--vacuuming up the stuff? Starting over-- YIKES! <just a big water change or two> My second question would be how to prevent this? My DI water without salt mix only has a pH of 6.0!! I don't know if the problem is the Kent buffer or <...the way it was used> --des <best regards, Anthony>

White Precipitate in New Tank? Would it be ok to add the live rock I have in a vat? (I mean if the pH is not too low). <Yes> Over the past couple days I have had a couple filters with carbon and filter floss and powerheads in there stirring up the water and the white stuff is very much lessened. <Good, but the dissolved chemistry is still skewed and in need of water changes for correction.> I still plan on doing the water changes as indicated and working to get the alk/Ca thing right. <Ahh, good!> What about using a two-parter which I have? <Yes fine once you have the alkalinity in the proper ratio to calcium will work fine to maintain correct levels and said ratio.> I seemed to have good luck with that the last tank setup (CA was around 400 and alk 3.5 pretty much constantly). My second question would be how to prevent this? <Aerate DI water prior to use for 24 hours. Then add your salt mix and stir for several. Then test pH and alkalinity. And finally add small amounts of buffering compounds while continued testing until you reach the desired numbers. At this point you should have been able to discover what DI water mix with your brand of salt mix needs to be in the proper ranges.> My DI water without salt mix only has a pH of 6.0!! I don't know if the problem is the Kent buffer or ...the way it was used <More likely the later.> I told Bob I planned not to do the same old mistakes but new and different ones. I seemed to have started early. :-} <Always new things pop up. No worries.> Thanks, --des/Jane <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

STILL PLAYING CATCH-UP! (alkalinity, calcium in re-set-up) Hi Bob, I emailed last week about my tank -- I had the 40 tank that sprang a leak last Tues and I had bought a 55 and put the tank and the smaller 25 into it . . . all new water except for 3 gallons I had sitting for my water change and what was in the 25. I was worried about my calcium and alk readings -- prior to the horror I had both tanks fairly balanced and stable with every-other week dosing with 2 part liquid ca or a Kalk at night and buffer in the am . . . readings were at alk 4, pH 8.2 and calc 400 for 6 months . . . The day after I set it back up, my readings were pH 8.0, alk 7 meq/L and Calcium 375.  <Not so bad.> I did a 10% water change, ran both skimmers (cps BakPak and remora pro), added 8 drops of iodine a day and used 2-part ca daily. Thursday the readings were pH 8.0, alk 5, calcium 350. I had been dosing in mornings with .5 teaspoon of baking soda, which I stopped Thursday. All corals were open and seemingly happy . . . another partial water change on Sat and built the screen covers like I had on my original tank so that there isn't glass between the lights and the water. Sunday my open brain had stopped opening, (pun intended, hee hee) <Very good> and the macro algae was turning white. Frogspawn, hammer, mushrooms (excluding two) and leathers and their respective accidental frags are fine. I have a blue "cauliflower" coral which shed it's head (the white cauliflower part) and is now looking like blue stumps with rounded, smooth tops -- is this natural or stress? <Abnormally stressed> I do have them high up in the tank. I didn't see anything on your page about them to explain this . . . Fish appear to be fine, and the Eiblii and flame angel seem to be oblivious of each other (they were in separate tanks prior and I was afraid they would fight) although they are picking the rocks a lot -- I think because there is not as much algae as either one of them are used to.  <This is fine> Coralline algae is covered with green (which I attribute to their fresh-water bath during my beloved hubby's frantic attempts to save what he thought of as alive -- fish and corals -- with the saltwater) I thought perhaps I was getting some die-off, checked all readings this morning: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphorus 0 pH 8.1 alk 3.5 calcium 250 Seems to me the numbers are going the wrong way . . . I am trying (-: to be patient with this 2 part but I am not sure it is working . . . me being patient, I mean, LOL. <Do keep up with the dosing, testing... increase the former till you're seeing an increase in concentration the following day> I did change the carbon and am used to a slight dip in the calcium after that, but not this much! Should I up the dosage amount of the 2 part??  <Oh! Yes> Once I get that done hopefully the coralline algae will come back . . . On a side note, I did get the new lights ordered (whooohooo!) can't wait for them to come . . . will put my old hood on eBay and someone will get a deal. I did get a Helix U.V sterilizer hooked up. All this worrying over the alk/calcium turns the mind to calcium reactors (another toy . . . ) I know you really like them and have read over the faqs on them. Seems like most of the people who have them have bigger tanks, are they worth the investment on a 55?  <Yes... a lot cheaper, easier, safer than liquid supplements. Much better results.> I'm not running a sump so I would need to be able to pump the water down and back up. I am not very handy and dear hubby doesn't mind honey-do lists as long as the fish tank is not involved, so I don't think I could sweet talk him into DIY . . . I was happy with my routine until this latest experience . . . sigh!! Thanks, hope you had a good weekend of diving and collecting! C <Thank you my grandiflora. Am out to the Desert Marine Society on Thursday to give a pitch in Phoenix, then a bunch of friends, associates, some of the WWM Crew and I are in Germany and Egypt's Red Sea for a couple of weeks in early May. Yay! Bob Fenner>

RE: STILL PLAYING CATCH-UP! Thanks for the light-speed response Bob -- you always amaze me I will up the rate on the 2 part and keep testing . . . once the ranges are better it will be calcium reactor time for me!! Maybe I should have gotten a sump, but in the rush of the upgrade I didn't have time to plan, LOL. <A lesson in life for sure.> Am always afraid that if the electric goes out the tank will be empty?  <No my friend. Easy to arrange to count only on gravity... If this force fails, we won't worry re our aquaria> Will have to do some reading on how to incorporate one without drilling/dumping the magnum 350 (I could just hear hubby if I did that, LOL!) I have some extra 10 gallons I could use . . . <I do have some ideas for specific inducements re those honey-do's...> Meant to tell you, too, re: the sour grapes guy who complained to Stephen Pro -- I have NEVER had any complaints over the guys that help you, and IMHO, you all deserve kudos!! <We sense this, and thanks back to you> Have a safe, productive and relaxing trip(s)! If you are ever in boring old Ohio, I owe you a big dinner and some beers . . . Cari <Mmm, almost worth the drive... Bob Fenner>

Cloudy Tank Hi, how are you doing today? <Very well, thank you!> I need help......We did a water change two days ago and now the water is cloudy and our corals are closed up, and look like they are beginning to die. We tested the water, and everything is at the correct levels with the pH a little low. <What do you believe are the correct levels and how low is low?> What could be wrong and what should we do, please send some advice soon. <I need considerably more information before I could even begin to diagnose your problem (age of the tank, inhabitants, actual numerical values for water quality parameters, source water, brand of salt mix, saltwater mixing procedure, exact time of onset and detailed description of problems, etc. A picture would be useful too.> Thank you for any info that you may have!! Marci <I hope to hear back from you soon. -Steven Pro>

Cloudy Tank II Hi, it is me again, I just wrote to you about the cloudy tank, and I have been looking through you tank troubleshooting site, and I can't seem to find anything that I should do to try to clear up the problem. I think that from what I have read that it might be a bacterial problem, but would another water change do any good, I don't want my corals and my tank to die. <A properly done water change (dechlorinated, pure source water, well aerate and well mixed, temperature adjusted, etc.) can never hurt.> Please help. Thank you, Marci <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Cloudy Water III Okay, I just got your email asking for details... The tank is three months old, Inhabitants: 2 ocellaris clowns, sebae anemone, banded shrimp, sally lightfoot, frogspawn coral, closed brain coral, 20 pounds of liverock, snails and hermits. The nitrates and nitrites are at 0, ammonia at 0, pH is at 7.5, <Wow Nellie!> then after beginning to test we took it to our LFS. They tested the water and couldn't find anything that was off except the pH. We use premixed saltwater from LFS, and the problem began about an hour after the water change about 2 days ago. We change about 20%. Thank you again, and sorry for the urgency. We love our fish. Marci = - ( <Well Marci, your pH is unacceptably low. Anything below 8.2 points to a problem with your husbandry and needs examination and addressing. Below 8.0 is a serious problem for most corals and fish and needs addressing immediately. I would look to increased aeration, buffer, water changes, and maybe a new LFS. If they were not horrified by a pH of 7.5 in a reef tank, then I would look elsewhere for water, livestock, and advise. -Steven Pro>

Floating particles Greetings Bob, I installed my reef tank about 4 months ago, wow! quite a steep learning curve, and all seems to be going well. I must compliment you on the wealth of knowledge you provide to all us "newbies". I see pictures of other reef tanks and the water clarity is beautiful. I can't get rid of these "tiny white floaty things" in my water. I'm pulling my hair out trying to determine what the heck this is and how to get rid of it! I don't overfeed and keep up on water changes. Everyone seems happy... My setup follows: 55G 50 Lbs Fiji LR Some crushed coral and LS for substrate 2 Powerheads for current HO Overflow 25 G Homemade acrylic sump contains: 50 micron pre-filter LS and LR (dark sump) AquaC HO skimmer Chemi-pure Eheim 2215 (intake and return into sump) Mag Drive 950 returns water through UV water top off with RO Livestock Naso Tang Coral Beauty Maroon Clown Lunar Wrasse Mushrooms Elegant coral Anenomes (2) Sleeper gobies clean-up crew The skimmer has not been working as well as it used to since the introduction of Chemi-pure. Can this be expected? Is my bio-load excessive? Any input you can provide would be appreciated. BW <Sorry, I forgot about the particles. Sounds like air bubbles to me. Look for a pinhole leak in your plumbing that is acting like a Venturi or if a pump is intaking some air bubbles from the skimmer. -Steven Pro>

Floating particles Greetings Bob, <Steven Pro this fine evening.> I installed my reef tank about 4 months ago, wow! quite a steep learning curve, and all seems to be going well. I must compliment you on the wealth of knowledge you provide to all us "newbies". I see pictures of other reef tanks and the water clarity is beautiful. I can't get rid of these "tiny white floaty things" in my water. I'm pulling my hair out trying to determine what the heck this is and how to get rid of it! I don't overfeed and keep up on water changes. Everyone seems happy... My setup follows: 55G 50 Lbs Fiji LR Some crushed coral and LS for substrate 2 Powerheads for current HO Overflow 25 G Homemade acrylic sump contains: 50 micron pre-filter LS and LR (dark sump) AquaC HO skimmer Chemi-pure Eheim 2215 (intake and return into sump) Mag Drive 950 returns water through UV <This UV must be massive to be able to kill things with this flow rate.> water top off with RO Livestock Naso Tang <Your tank is way to small for a Naso. You need a 180 as a minimum, 2'x2'x6'.> Coral Beauty Maroon Clown Lunar Wrasse Mushrooms Elegant coral Anenomes (2) Sleeper gobies clean-up crew The skimmer has not been working as well as it used to since the introduction of Chemi-pure. Can this be expected? <Way have some effect, but definitely not drastic. Maybe a 10-20% reduction. Anything over a 50% reduction would seem extreme to me.> Is my bio-load excessive? <Yes, you have several fish that want to get rather large.> Any input you can provide would be appreciated. BW <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Water Quality, Bonnethead Shark Thanks for the reply. As I say, the water quality is good - not pristine - but pretty close (this morning pH: 8.1, ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, nitrate: 15 mg/l, phosphate: 0.2 mg/l). I didn?t know anyone made an iodine test until you mentioned it. It will be interesting to view the results. <Yes> One follow-up question. Regarding the ?shark effect?. This has me concerned. <To be clear/er, what I mean is both the psychological effect of having a large potential predator in your living space, AND the overall physiological effects of its metabolism> The shark is extremely well behaved, except at feeding time (where he swims very rapidly and splashes around). Usually, the fish ignore the shark (e.g. the shark often swims up to/into the other big fish as he?s a fairly oblivious swimmer, then swerves around them.). However the angel will, at times, run away and hide in the live rock - especially when the shark is being hyperactive at feeding times. <Good idea don't you think?> Also, when there?s food in the water, the shark has been known to bump and/or follow a fish until he realizes they aren?t food. Sometimes the angel will even lie sideways under a rock overhang. So there?s some good evidence to your concern. <Yes, and theirs> The shark is about 18? long at 2.5 years of age (theoretically having reached maturity at 2). <Mmm, no. Please see FishBase.org re Sphyrna tiburo... this fish does, will get longer if it lives... up to about five feet in the wild... about three in your system... and live for more years> The angel is about 4? long and I?d guestimate between 6-9 months old. Will the ?shark effect? diminish as the angel grows in relation to the shark? <To some extent, yes> Scott Michael lists the lifespan of a bonnethead at 5 years, so I don?t see him getting too much longer (although his girth continues to increase - he?s up to a solid 6 goodly sized cocktail shrimp/3 days). The angel is a pig and is growing rapidly; very bold, good color, often hand feeding. <Do diversify its diet> Other than the shark and angel, there?s only 1 other big? fish in there - a 3.5? yellow tang. Small fish include 3 Fijian blue devil damsels, a magenta Pseudochromis and a 6-line wrasse. Other than starfish, snails and a cleaner shrimp, that?s it. Any suggestions for reducing potential ?shark effect??  <Skimming, water changes, carbon use, the tying in of a substantial refugium with live rock, lighting (alternating with main system), "mud", many pieces of gear... ozonizer, desiccator for same... more physical break-up (likely more, large rock, nooks, crannies in the main system> I might by able to add some more live rock creating more and larger hiding caves as a start. I?m still working on my master plan to upgrade to the Euro Reef skimmer (retrofitting the stand is proving to be quite the challenge). This should bump up the pH and increase Redox (but otherwise, there?s not too much room for improvement in water quality). Also, this renovation will increase system water turnover from just under 5 to 6 times/hour, and I know the angel will like that. I should have it ready in another month or two. <All good changes, improvements. Bob Fenner>

Water Quality, Air Bubbles and MH lights on too long Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Seems to me that water hardness in a marine aquarium should be high.  <yes...relatively speaking> I didn't realize this at first and was shocked that the water was way off the scale on GH and KH. Is there a point at which this is to high? <11-12 dKH is very fine...approaching 18-20 is scary if you have a reef and you are dosing calcium for fear of a crystalline precipitation> Secondly, I've got a 65 gal tank with 30lbs of live rock, 1" of large crushed coral,  <thin this out if you don't siphon it frequently> some snails, shrimp, and crabs. Its been up for 3 months not doing much. I've had a sump connected, but removed it due to gear problems. I've got this annoying bubble problem. First I thought it was the sump, and to some degree it was, but now all I have is a power head that is submerged 10" from the surface and a heater and there are still bubbles.  <sticking to and emanating from the rockscape? If so... lights may be too bright or on too long> I thought it might be the water quality (see above), <no way> but I've done some large water changes (30% x 2 in 2wks). Everything else water quality wise is good. The only other problem that I seem to have is algae. This started when I put on the Metal Halides over the aquarium.  <hello! There's your answer. MH bulbs closer than 12" (not necessarily bad) or on for more than 9 hours daily (more likely and possibly unnecessary) are often culprits> This in tandem with the addition of some tap water and pure circulation and no protein skimmer.  <aiee! you're killing me. No skimmer?!? Why don't you just cut one of my fingers off instead...hehe. You will continue to have serious algae problems in all likelihood without a good and functioning skimmer> I've got the skimmer now (EV-120) and waiting for the pump.  <nice unit> I've purchased a 5 stage water RO/DI Unit which should be the cat's meow.  <agreed> I've also purchased a great sump return pump. When it all get here I start up the sump again. <sounds like it will be a nice setup...have faith and patience for it to come together> Any ideas why I've got so many bubbles? Puzzled? <no doubt in my mind that you have your lights on too long... I've seen this with hundreds of aquarists in the past decade. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

RE: Elevated pH, VERY low Ca, Rising KH Anthony, <Hello again!> Well, I've been a bit slow to do these tests, but here are the results... The raw, filtered tap water has a pH of 5.0 and a KH of 1 (one drop turns water yellow). What surprised me is that the aerated, filtered water had the same pH and KH values... Does this make sense? <very unusual and would make me want to confirm the results against another brand of test kit. But if true, you will indeed need more buffer to reconstitute the treated water before use. Sounds like you have very mild tap/source water to use before treatment> John <regards, Anthony>

RE: Elevated pH, VERY low Ca, Rising KH Anthony, <Jack... good evening> The test kit I used is a Tetra. Would you recommend another brand? <as your primary, I am quite content with Tetra relatively speaking. Without spending dearly for lab grade tests, you should be served well. It is always nice, though, to have a second brand for parameters of interest to you to confirm readings> When you say we have mild tap water, what exactly does mild mean?  <I suspect that it is not extremely high in mineral content (only moderately hard or perhaps even soft> What KH value would you expect me to have after aerating (FYI, this water has been aerating for 4-5 days). <KH will not change, but pH rises for most. Aerating for 12-24 hours is sufficient> John <kindly, Anthony>

Hazy Water Hello and I just wanted you to know that I have read a lot of your great advise. I will take my turn and ask for your advise.  <batter up...> I am new to this hobby. I have a 125gl fish only tank with a sump under it. I have a micron sock and a hanging fluidized sand bed (rated for up to 300gl) on it. I have about 20 pounds of live rock and 2 inches of crushed corals.  < a nutrient sink and dangerous problem in a medium to heavy-fed fish tank... thin this out to less than 1" (.5) otherwise it traps too much detritus> I also have a prism hang on skimmer.  <please do consider a second and more efficient model> My fish include a Yellow Head Eel and Jewel Eel both about 1 1/2ft long. A small snow flake Eel, 3ft Green Moray Eel (The Beast), A Panther Grouper, Big Eyed Soldier fish, Niger Trigger, 2 inch Damsel, Banded Shark And a Toad fish.  <Marty... it truly breaks my heart to hear this obscene amount of fish in your tank. You were done a great disservice by whoever sold all of these to you. Your tank spatially and biologically is not even humane as a home for just the green moray. You need help fast, my friend>  Every one gets along great except when the green beast goes to eat. Then they all hide. As I would to. Hahhaha. My problem is this. I have always had a white haze in my tank.  <heavy bio-load, serious over-stocking> I can never seem to get the water crystal clear.  <above> Reading a lot of the advise I see on here I am beginning to thing I don't have the proper filtration.  <what you need is a 1000 gallon tank or to thin out your population drastically. That biological haze you are seeing is the last step before a meltdown. Might be days, weeks or even a couple of months away... but it is quite cruel and you will lose fish> I was thinking of putting bio balls in my sump. Would that help.  <saltwater rain above your tank would not help at this point...hehe> I have also read that I could put live sand and live rock in the sump. Can you please help me . And please don't tell me I am over crowded because I would then have to buy a new tank cause I would never want to get rid of any of my fish. They all have there own personalities. Thanks, Marty

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