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Old 05-22-2012, 05:08 PM   #1
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High Alkalinity and Low Calcium Problems

I have a 10 gallon FOWLR tank that is currently cycling, but the cycling is nearly done. Ammonia reads 0 everyday, nitrites is 2 ppm, and nitrates is 160 ppm. I started testing calcium and alkalinity a few days ago, and it seems all out of whack.

Alkalinity has tested very high. it goes off the charts, which is 215+. Calcium, on the other hand, is extremely low, reading at 220. I've been adding calcium buffers but it hasn't done anything yet.

Question is, how do I balance out the alkalinity and calcium before the tank is done cycling so they can be at proper levels before adding the fish and invertebrates? I'm using Instant Ocean salt mix, if that helps. Any suggestions?
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:32 PM   #2
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I'm not quite sure what 215+ is? My test kit only reads up to 15 dkh.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:42 PM   #3
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First off, dosing calcium will not correct the problem only add to it. Secondly, besides getting those levels to even out...why are you concerned about them in a FOWLR system? Those elements aren't absorbed to levels that would need monitored in a FOWLR system like they would be in a reef. Using RO/DI water with your instant ocean salt should give you everything you would ever need, and more, for a FOWLR setup.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:47 PM   #4
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After the cycle, do regular water changes with a decent salt mix and enjoy your tank. You aren't putting anything in it that warrants a calcium or alkalinity test. Look after ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and ph, stock reasonably, and have fun.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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I wouldn't really worry about your parameters while you are cycling, but.......
I have to really question that calcium level. It's pretty much impossible for calcium to be that low. I use Instant Ocean and it mixes to around 400 ppm calcium. Your alk is a little over where it should be with IO, which is usually around 11 dKH. Your 215 ppm = 12.04 dKH.

What brand test kits are you using?
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:28 PM   #6
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I've been using API test kits. Are you sure that ignoring calcium and alkalinity levels is a good idea? I plan on having invertebrates, some snails and shrimp. My research tells me that those levels are important. I'm worried about them now because the tank will be done cycling very very soon and I wasn't sure if introducing my stock to low calcium levels is a good idea.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:46 PM   #7
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Get better test kits, such as Salifert, and try again when you are done cycling.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:51 PM   #8
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I'd like to get better test kits but my LFS only sells API. Nevermind I'll look at the other pet store and see. The API didn't seem very accurate, the calcium test was always a little funny. :/ I'll try again when the cycling is done, but if calcium is still really low and alkalinity is still high, what do i do?
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:55 PM   #9
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First off your calcium and alk are not low. Your saltmix sets the base line. And it will never change much with waterchanges and a fowlr system. Calcium and alk are reef tests. They will never drop in fowlr system as nothing uses it. The only think in your tank that may need a little calcium is your snails for shell growth however this calcium will be replaced with water changes and the snails will never use enough to warrant testing. Calcium and alk are reef based worries not fowlr.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:58 PM   #10
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So I shouldn't worry about it? If you say so. I thought 220 was a little low but okay
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