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Old 07-04-2005, 10:10 AM   #1
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Calcium and dKH Struggles

I am continuing to struggle to keep my calcium and dKH in the red zone as shone in this article by Randy Holmes-Farley (http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm). I am trying to use Kalk as my balanced additive and it almost seems like it isn't doing anything. For example I have added calcium and Kent superbuffer dKH to get myself in the red zone. Then I dose Kalk by dripping it with an IV bag and after a week or so my dKH will be around 2.5 meq/L and my calcium will be around 350 or 370 ppm. Currently my dKH is about 2.5 meq/L and my calcium is 370. I am adding about 1 teaspoon of Kent superbuffer dKH a day along with the Kalk to try and get back in the correct range of the dKH.

I just recently tested my magnesium level and it was around 1000 ppm which I understand to be a little low. I think the desired range is between 1300 and 1500.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong here? Is my slightly low magnesium level causing the problem?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Willem
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Old 07-04-2005, 11:16 AM   #2
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Re: Calcium and dKH Struggles

Quote:
Originally Posted by awillemd1
I just recently tested my magnesium level and it was around 1000 ppm which I understand to be a little low. I think the desired range is between 1300 and 1500.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong here? Is my slightly low magnesium level causing the problem?
The Mg could use a boost for sure but if it was the problem, Ca would start climbing independantly and alk would fall off or be impossible to maintain. Doesn't seem the case here as your alk seems to be staying near 2.5 mEq/l which there's nothing wrong with. I would still suggest trying to fix the Mg with some water changes first before dosing MgCl, your going to need a fair amount. Test the saltmix to see where the level stands at. You might need to get some magnesium chloride to augment the salt and bring the Mg upto 1250ish ppm if it falls short.

If I understand your dosing, you are using 1 tspn of buffer + 1 tspn of kalk dripped daily? When are you adding each? Do you have a stand alone Ca additive? What brand of saltmix?

Cheers
Steve
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Old 07-04-2005, 11:43 AM   #3
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Steve-s

Thank you for your reply.

Quote:
Doesn't seem the case here as your alk seems to be staying near 2.5 mEq/l which there's nothing wrong with.
I thought 2.5 mEq/l was a little on the low side.?

Quote:
Test the saltmix to see where the level stands at.
I am in the process of making some up. I will be able to check it in the next 24 hours for sure.

Quote:
You might need to get some magnesium chloride to augment the salt and bring the Mg upto 1250ish ppm if it falls short.
Is there a source of MgCl at a hardware store or garden supply place? I would rather get it there then spend the high prices for aquarium grade MgCl.



Quote:
If I understand your dosing, you are using 1 tspn of buffer + 1 tspn of kalk dripped daily? When are you adding each? Do you have a stand alone Ca additive? What brand of saltmix?
Yes, that is about correct. I don't have a real tight schedule, but based on your feedback in previous posts I am trying to add a small amount of buffer, i.e. 1 tsp daily, typically in the morning. I am trying to constantly add the Kalk as make up water, but I can't keep up due to my schedule, not due to a large amount of evaporation. I have the Kent Marine Liquid Calcium, which I assume is just CaCl2. You advised me previously to try to bring one in range and then work on the other. I thought it was dKH first. I use Instant Ocean Salt and add calcium to try to bring the level above 400 ppm. If I don't add calcium the level is always 350 ppm.

By the way I recently added chaeto to my refugium in an effort to replace all of my caulerpa and avoid the problem of it going sexual. I still run my refugium lights 24/7. I would assume that this helps stabilze the pH that is why I mention this.


Willem
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Old 07-04-2005, 04:14 PM   #4
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You're in luck Willem! Steve is the man when it comes to chemistry. He helped me out a lot.

Stephen
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Old 07-04-2005, 07:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awillemd1
Quote:
Doesn't seem the case here as your alk seems to be staying near 2.5 mEq/l which there's nothing wrong with.
I thought 2.5 mEq/l was a little on the low side.?
Absolutely nothing wrong with an alk of 2.5, it's just your Ca that's low. It's a very widely held and misinformed belief that higher numbers are more beneficial. They are in fact the complete opposite in most cases (if not all). Personally I prefer to balance the chemistry from the salinity (35 ppt) on down so I keep my alk around 2.6-2.8 mEq/l and the Ca around 415 ppm.



Quote:
Quote:
You might need to get some magnesium chloride to augment the salt and bring the Mg upto 1250ish ppm if it falls short.
Is there a source of MgCl at a hardware store or garden supply place? I would rather get it there then spend the high prices for aquarium grade MgCl.
You are better off with water changes once you test the new salt to see where it sits. a 250 ppm increase in 80ish gal of tank volume (just shy of 2 cups dry weight) MgCl will cost a fair bit, the water change is a much easier solution as a rule. For smaller corrections, epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) can be used but should not be relied upon for large correction nor regular dosing. It will greatly increase the sulphates in the water. Seawater being primarily chloride salts.

I doubt there's anything you'll find that will be refined properly (cheap) and still be pure enough for tank use. It will most likely come with alot of extra metal salts which at the very least would contribute to some serious algae issues.

Quote:
Quote:
If I understand your dosing, you are using 1 tspn of buffer + 1 tspn of kalk dripped daily? When are you adding each? Do you have a stand alone Ca additive? What brand of saltmix?
Yes, that is about correct. I don't have a real tight schedule, but based on your feedback in previous posts I am trying to add a small amount of buffer, i.e. 1 tsp daily, typically in the morning. I am trying to constantly add the Kalk as make up water, but I can't keep up due to my schedule, not due to a large amount of evaporation. I have the Kent Marine Liquid Calcium, which I assume is just CaCl2. You advised me previously to try to bring one in range and then work on the other. I thought it was dKH first. I use Instant Ocean Salt and add calcium to try to bring the level above 400 ppm. If I don't add calcium the level is always 350 ppm.
Your alk is fine but you will have an easier time of it with the Ca once the Mg is corrected as well. Before you do any more "corrections", please post your results on the salmix and we can go from there.

Quote:
I still run my refugium lights 24/7. I would assume that this helps stabilze the pH that is why I mention this.
Another misconception. 24/7 will not be as beneficial in terms of "stability". You are better off if possible, having the fuge lit while the main tank lights are off (reverse lighting). That way you are balancing off O2 and CO2 production so there is a saw off and no real change. I doubt the way you have it is going to impact the alk much unless the tank is heavily stocked.
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Old 07-05-2005, 12:50 AM   #6
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Steve-s

I checked my fresh batch of IO water with a Salifert Mg test kit and it tested right at 1000 ppm mg.

I am not sure what to think at this point, i.e. I don't know if my test kit is off or if my IO salt is off. I don't think I have any way to validate it as I have called every aquarium place in Houston and none of them do a Mg test.

Any advice at this point would be most appreciated.


Willem
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Old 07-05-2005, 04:25 PM   #7
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Nasty salt, oh well. One last question and then we can move onto a solution.

What salinity do you mix the salt to and are you using a refractometer or hydrometer?

As far as your test kit, I think it's accurate. The reading in the tank and the saltmix itself can't really be coincidence (both 1000 ppm).

Cheers
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Old 07-05-2005, 04:49 PM   #8
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Steve-s

Thank you for the reply.

Quote:
Nasty salt, oh well. One last question and then we can move onto a solution.
Can you recommend something else? Unfortunately, I just purchased another 5 gallon pail of this salt.

Quote:
What salinity do you mix the salt to and are you using a refractometer or hydrometer?
I use an inexpensive hydrometer. I might have access to a refractometer at work as I work for a chemical company.


Quote:
As far as your test kit, I think it's accurate. The reading in the tank and the saltmix itself can't really be coincidence (both 1000 ppm).
Good point! I thought of making a new batch with the newly purchased salt to see if it was any different. I also thought I might buy a small amount of another manufacturer's salt to see if that gave a different result. Finally, I called Aquarium Systems, the manufacturer of IO salt to see what their target value was for Mg, however, they haven't returned my call yet. I couldn't find any specs on their webpage.

Also, I checked out Kent Tech-M magnesium supplement at Marine Depot. It doesn't seem so expensive, however, I don't know if I can find it in my small town and I didn't do any calculations to see how much I would need.

I did a 10 gallon water change this morning which obviously won't help my Mg level, but will help to raise my Ca level as well as replace other things. (I add Kent Marine Liquid Ca to my new salt water to bring the level to around 425 ppm. According to my test kit the IO salt always measures at around 350 ppm Ca). Also, I added a tablespoon of my Kent Marine Liquid calcium, to again begin to bring my Ca level up.

Looking forward to your reply.

Willem
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Old 07-05-2005, 05:20 PM   #9
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Still need to know the salinity?

As far as the Tech-M, you'd need a little over ½ of the 64 oz bottle to correct the tank levels so not exspensive at all ($12.99).

The salts easy to work around really, switching is up to you but knowing the limitations of a certain salt like this is relatively easy to work around.

Per 5 gal of newly mixed salt you'd need...

2¼ oz MgCl to bring 1000 ppm to 1250 ppm
¾ tspn of CaCl dry weight to go from 350 ppm to 415 ppm
or
½ oz (approx) of CaCl if using a liquid form.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 07-05-2005, 05:27 PM   #10
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Steve-s:

Quote:
Still need to know the salinity?
Sorry I missed that one.

I target my specific gravity to be around 1.023 +/- .01. I measured it about a week ago and I know it was in that range, but I don't know the exact value.
Also, I know the new salt water that I used to do the water change was in that range.

I will stop at the lfs on my way home to see if they have the Tech-M.

Willem
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