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Old 12-27-2006, 09:06 PM   #1
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Ca Question

I've had a 46 gallon FOWLR up since early September and am trying to get my water parameters lined up to eventually add some soft/med light corals. My tank is currently at

pH 8.3-8.2
SG 1.024-1.025
temp 76-78 F
amm/nitrite/nitrate at 0
phosphate at 0
KH at 2.8 - 3.2 meq/l (8-9 dKH)
Ca at 360ppm

About a month ago, my Ca levels were around 320ppm and I started dosing the recommended amount of B-ionic. My levels got up to about 360ppm Ca and then leveled off. I started dosing more, but started seeing a drop in Ca and a rise in Alk, so I stopped. Alk rose to about 3.9 meq/l (11 dKH).

I searched and read up on the whole Ca/Alk balance thing, and thought I understood what I needed to do. I'd like my Ca levels up around 410ppm or so. Reading an article by Holmes-Farley on advancedaquarist.com (http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm) it appeared that with my Alkalinity, all I had to do was add calcium - with NO increase in alkalinity and I should get there.

Over the last four days, I've dosed 30ml each day of JUST the Ca part of the B-ionic for a total of 120ml. This is the equivalent of 45ppm of Ca for my 46 gallon tank. However, I haven't seen any increase in Ca levels when I test! I've gone out and bought a Salifert test to confirm the AP test I've been using and they both agree... 360ppm Ca.

I seem to have hit a wall, but I didn't think that with an alkalinity of 2.8 meq/l (8 dKH) I'd be saturated at 360ppm Ca. Is that what's going on? Any other ideas?

I've got some TurboCalcium on it's way, but am going to hold off doing anything more until I get a grip on what's going on. I AM seeing an increase in coralline algae growth, but it doesn't seem like my tank should've used up 45ppm Ca in just four days - the additional amount I've put in. Could it?

Thanks in advance to the gurus,

[Edited to add more info: I forgot to mention... I'm using Reef Crystals, 10% water change weekly, water parameters of the 36 hr old freshly mixed water is about the same as my tank... 360ppm Ca and 2.8 meq/l, pH 8.3 or so.]

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Old 12-28-2006, 09:26 AM   #2
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I am not a guru but I keep my calcium at around 400-420 just by doing PWC`s with oceanic salt. I dont know why(I told you I`m not a guru) but since using oceanic I have no calcium problem and definitely no coralline problem. Check out my gallery for my tank pics which has alot of soft corals and all med. light corals. Sorry I could not be more scientific but all I have is
experience to rely on.

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Old 12-28-2006, 06:09 PM   #3
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Well... you've been doing it longer than me, so you get guru status by default!

After doing some more research, if I'm understanding it correctly, my Ca/Alk is not balanced. For my given Alk, I should be around 400-410 Ca to be ionically balanced. To get there, I supposedly just need to add a form of calcium (calcium chloride, etc) without adding any buffer. I *thought* using the Ca part of the ESV 2-part system would do that... but maybe not.

I've heard Oceanic salt gives you higher Ca out of the bag, but you take a hit with Alk. Except for the Ca level, I'm happy with Reef Crystals and am afraid to upset the apple cart.

I know if I want to stay at 400ppm or so, I'll have to add Ca to my PWC water since RC comes in around 360ppm. But I'm thinking once I get my main tank in balance, and I find that magic balance point for my PWC water (how much Turbo-Ca to add to the PWC water) things should remain stable. Or maybe I should just stick with my meager 360ppm Ca and not stress it since RC made the salt to mix up that way for a reason, I'm guessing?
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Old 12-29-2006, 08:27 PM   #4
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Hey Kurt. Have you ever tested for Magnesium? If you are low in magnesium you will have a hard time balancing out Alk and Ca.

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Old 12-30-2006, 12:20 AM   #5
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I haven't tested for Magnesium. I was wondering about that the other day when I was researching though. I'd rationalized in my head that it wasn't a problem because when I was adding Ca, I was just using the Ca part of the B-ionic. And listed in the ingredients of that bottle, fairly up near the top, was magnesium. I figured if I was low, I'd be putting it in with the Ca. I probably should get a test kit just so I know where I'm at. (I'm such a geek when it comes to water parameters.)

Funny thing though, my Ca levels seem to be inching higher. I stopped dosing Ca two days ago and last night my Ca levels finally nudged up from 360 to 380. Tonight they're definitely 380... maybe a tad higher. Alk is still hovering around 2.8-3.2 meq/l. Perhaps adding just the Ca portion of the two-part doesn't *immediately* increase Ca, and it takes a few days to work it's way into the system?

I gotta go to the fish store tomorrow anyways, so maybe I'll pick up a Mg kit just for giggles.
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Old 12-30-2006, 02:29 AM   #6
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If you are seeing a major growth of coraline you would expect to see the calc decrease slightly as it grows. I actually used some purple up a while back during a major growth period in my tank. Once I backed off the growth slowed slightly. My PWC's helped a little with my CAL being fairly high for tap water in Alaska anyways.

Hope this helps. Good to see folks using the ole noggin to learn everything. Always good to know what affects your pets.

Meanwhile back on my farm: I keep CAL around 350 ppm - 400 ppm. I've had problems with ALK and PH keeping up with my tank w/o dosing.

Best Regards! Keep on "not" fishing.
75gal Salt, 18gal Sump, Skimmer, 60lb Live Rock, 90lb Live Sand, 3 Pwrhd, 2x55w Actinic, 2x55w 10k. Guest list: Goby Green Clown, Percula Clown and entire clean up crew.
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Old 12-31-2006, 12:11 AM   #7
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Magnesium doesn't seem to be an issue. I picked up a test kit (Salifert) today and tonight the tank measured 380ppm Calcium and 1140ppm Mg. Granted, the Mg is a tad lower than "normal saltwater", but it seems like I remember reading somewhere that as long as your Mg is about 3x your Ca levels, you're OK.

Just as an aside, Reef Crystals mixed up to 1.024 SG reads about 1180ppm Mg.
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Old 12-31-2006, 12:27 AM   #8
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Randey Farleys 2 part recipe is great for dosing. It is easy to make and cheap using Dowflake, epson salt, baking soda...

I agree with Melosou that if you have a soft coral tank with LPS even you may not have to dose.

If you however have a high load of calcium demanding SPS/LPS and clams you will need to. Dosing with Randys solution and using a Kalk topoff solution will maintain these levels or a calcium reactor.

Randy also has articles on how magnesium affects CA levels.

If you only have soft corals 380 CA is not that bad.

Idealy monitor ALK/CA/MAG/PH once a tank is established. Additions of Kalk drop PH and is better done at night.

Here are more links that will help:


If you need more info. feel free to private message me and good luck
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Old 01-01-2007, 09:20 PM   #9
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I too use IO Reef Crystals and I was just getting ready to post a ? on how to get the Ca up. I’ve read about the ionic balance between Ca / Alk. I have also been using the B- Ionic but according to a couple reef chemistry calculators I’ve been using it would take bottles and bottles of the stuff to raise it and be ionically balanced.
Let us know how the turbo Ca works
Calculator- http://jdieck1.home.comcast.net/chemcalc.html
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Old 01-01-2007, 09:27 PM   #10
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I never used it.

I only have used homeade additives like Randys recipe. Since this is brought up I read on another site that Dowflake which is the part used for the CA is going to change its product for the new year and it is going to have higher concentrations so the recipe will have to be recalculated.

What are you keeping for corals? Unless you have more than a few stoney corals or clams I would not go crazy adding stuff.

What are you getting for readings?

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