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Old 04-05-2004, 10:31 AM   #1
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Alk and Ca problems

I have been battling Alk and Ca problems for the longest time and am finally at my wits end. I can't seem to correct the problem for the life of me. I now am in some need of help from you guys and gals...

Here is the deal, my alk is low. Way low. I just tested it this morning and it was around 5.5 DKH as measured with the Salifert Alk kit. My Ca actually wasn't too bad as it was around 390 ppm. Lately, its been my Alk I have had a hard time keeping up. The Ca seems to have stabilized as every morning it always tests at around 390 ppm.

This is what I have do every day to try and correct the problem:

Dose saturated Kalk via auto topoff
Dose 27 ml of each bottle of B-Ionic
Tested Mg and it comes out to around 1300 ppm as per Seachem Mg kit
Monitor pH to make sure it doesn't go above 8.4 or so that that abiotic precipitation doesn't follow

I can't figure out what the heck is wrong. I just can't belive that my tank is using this much Alk and Ca every day! The only thing I have a lot of is coralline algae all over the rocks. Although within the last two weeks, my coralline has been disapearing off the back glass. It is almost totally gone which I can only attribute to having chronic low levels of Alk and Ca. I do have one T. Maxima, Green horn, and one frag of pocillipora. Everything else is LPS and a few zoos.

I can correct the Alk problem with baking soda and push it up to around 9DKH. But then over the next few days it keeps falling even with all the dosing I do.

So I just don't know what to do anymore. It is extremely frustrating to know how to correct this problem, but for what ever reason, can not. I am going to be ordering new Salifert Alk and Ca kits here today as I am out of my Alk kit due to all of my testing the last month to try and correct the problems...

FYI, a few months ago, I experimented with adding 40-50 ml of each B-Ionic solution to see what happened. This is in a 40 gallon tank. It didn't seem to do anything. It raised the levels immediately, but then when I tested for them the next morning the Alk and fallen back down to ~6-7DKH and the Calcium down to ~390 ppm.

I am almost thinking I am losing all of this Alk and Ca due to Abiotic precip even though my pH doesn't appear to be going all that high and my Mg levels are fine. Although I just looked at my heater and I can still see the glass on it just fine. I haven't check any pumps yet. I do have a light brown slightly "crusty" coating on the sides and bottom of the sump. I am not sure if this is an indicator of a problem or just normal sump "wear and tear".

Help!
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Old 04-05-2004, 10:42 AM   #2
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http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm
check out this link. it is so far the most straight forward article about Ca Alk that ive found to date. it dicusses your problem exactly. i use the chart each time i test Ca Alk levels.
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Peppermint Shrimp:
Crush two tbs minced mint leaves (no stems) with the juice of two limes, two tbs of sugar and a shot of light rum. Marinade eight cleaned jumbo shrimp for two hours in fridge or overnight (overnight is best). Skewer and salt shrimp. Broil or grill over medium high heat until shrimp become opaque (apx. two and a half min per side). Serve with black beans cooked with garlic, green onions, bacon and topped with a slice of lime.
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Old 04-05-2004, 11:16 AM   #3
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What salt are you using? A better alk buffer is a 6:1 dry mix of A&H baking sida (6 parts) and A&H washing soda (1 part), mix well, 1 level tsp mixed in a glass of cool R/O water per 20g tank volume to raise the DKH of the tank by 1. The baking soda alone will buffer the ph, but does little for the alk, from what I've read, although I might be off on that.
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Old 04-05-2004, 11:16 AM   #4
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Oh yeah, been there done that. The problem is holding Alk and Ca to the proper levels. I can move them around easily enough with B-Ionic and/or baking soda. But it seems like the next day just doesn't matter...

I can attribute the problem to one of three things:

1. Faulty Alk test kit
2. abiotic precipitation
3. Normal organism use (which it hard to believe)
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Old 04-05-2004, 11:20 AM   #5
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Can you have someone else double check the alk to rule out a bad kit?
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Old 04-05-2004, 11:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Can you have someone else double check the alk to rule out a bad kit?
I am going to the LFS today to get some snails. I will also take a sample of water with me to see what their kits read.
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Old 04-05-2004, 01:04 PM   #7
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im not sure where all your Ca and Alk is going each night. but levels seem balanced according to the charts which i linked to in an earlier reply.
your 5.5 DKH is = 2.0 meq/l on those charts you should only need to add a balanced additive. ive added in your test results to the chart as you can see. with a balanced addition you should fall right into the red section.

where are your maximum test results?

i aggree with kevin i would stay away from the bi-carb. i toyed with it trying to get Ca and alk at some perfect ratio. it only made matters worse.
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Peppermint Shrimp:
Crush two tbs minced mint leaves (no stems) with the juice of two limes, two tbs of sugar and a shot of light rum. Marinade eight cleaned jumbo shrimp for two hours in fridge or overnight (overnight is best). Skewer and salt shrimp. Broil or grill over medium high heat until shrimp become opaque (apx. two and a half min per side). Serve with black beans cooked with garlic, green onions, bacon and topped with a slice of lime.
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Old 04-05-2004, 01:42 PM   #8
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Thanks for the help!

My maximum levels when dosing Kalk and B-Ionic are ~8 DKH and a Ca of 415 ppm in the morning right after dosing. Like you said, its balanced, but its just hard to imagine that with the animals I have now, my Alk can drop 2DKH overnight and that is with using Kalk as 100% topoff.

Sodium Bicarbonate actually does raise the Alk but it does temporarily lower pH in a marine aquarium while Sodium Carbonate temporarily raises (substantially) the pH. The baking soda works for a few days and keeps it up there, but it doesn't last long.

It does point to normal organism use, but I just don't believe I have that many Alk and Ca demanding organisms in the tank. What happens when I started adding SPS?!?

Perhaps I need to look into using vinegar with Kalk...
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Old 04-05-2004, 02:07 PM   #9
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Part of your problem is also try to fix an imblanace with balanced additives. Contrary to what some may believe, only using one part of the ionic liquid will not properly raise alkalinity or calcium if used seperately. They are dependant on each other and will be affected by what amount each is added.

I would actually suggest getting two seperate additives. Personally I prefer Kent superbuffer DKH and Kent Turbo Ca. FWIW I use the two part liquids and kalkwasser for my chem needs but I would never use them to augment only one part of the equation. On my 90 gal I use 35 ml of each daily as well as 2 tbsp of kalk 3x/wk. Conversely on my 27, it only needs 5 ml 3x/wk and I do not use kalk.

Typically in a high Ca low alk balance, a higher Ca level will push down on alkalinity much faster than the reverse. If the balance was high alk low Ca, the alkalinity will more often be less affected by increased Ca additions while alkalinity levels are being maintained through seperate additions first.

Point being, stop trying to fix both at once. The Mg levels are sufficient and will allow a higher alk to come up. Using a seperate buffer, slowly over the next few days, get the alk level upto about 4.25 mEq/l. Make sure the Mg is maintained as it will tend to precip slightly in a higher alk environment. Once the alk is in the proper range, use the Turbo Ca to bring the Ca into balance. Usually slightly more daily Ca is needed than normal but not much. The higher alk environment will also reduce/prevent abiotic precip to a certain degree.

Once alk is optimal, add the buffer daily to keep it there (best done in the early AM) and then a few hours later (or even better after work) add the Ca 1/8 to ¬ľ teaspoon at first and then test the net result and increase the Ca as needed in safe amounts. If alkalinity is maintained first and the Ca is added after, it will prevent the Ca additions from forcing the alk down again. Once they are back in balance you can return to the normal routine.

Make sense

Cheers
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Old 04-05-2004, 03:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
The higher alk environment will also reduce/prevent abiotic precip to a certain degree.
yes it is not what the two are separate but what they are together.
i often think "oh my alk is low" or "oh my Ca is low" when actually when i put the two together and place it on that chart i fall right in the middle of the red zone. steve posted a link a few months ago here it is.
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-0...ture/index.htm
its a tuff read but the charts are awesome. they show the many different variations of "balanced" Alk Ca pH
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Peppermint Shrimp:
Crush two tbs minced mint leaves (no stems) with the juice of two limes, two tbs of sugar and a shot of light rum. Marinade eight cleaned jumbo shrimp for two hours in fridge or overnight (overnight is best). Skewer and salt shrimp. Broil or grill over medium high heat until shrimp become opaque (apx. two and a half min per side). Serve with black beans cooked with garlic, green onions, bacon and topped with a slice of lime.
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