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Old 09-16-2004, 10:32 AM   #1
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Proper Alk & Calcium levels for a reef

For those of you aiming at a reef tank..where do you keep your Calcium and Alk levels?

I can't seem to get my Ca above 300ppm. Last night I dosed some Kents dKh super buffer, and a teaspoon of Kent calcium. Prior to this my Ca was 300ppm.
Tonight, roughly 22 hours later, I test Calcium...300ppm.
And to boot, I started a kalk drip yesterday too, and went through 15 oz of it already. (1/2 gallon R/O to 1/2teaspoon of pickling lime, Mrs. Wages brand - was told this brand was 'ok')

My alk levels have been coming up. Sunday I was at 2.5meq/l dosed 1.5 teaspoons superbuffer. Monday I was at 3.0meq/l So I dosed 2 teaspoons (probably dumb...too much at once?) and today its 3.5meq/l

I guess I'll mix up some water for my next water change, and test it to see what exactly I'm putting in. (Instant Ocean salt, though I'm almost out and switching to Oceanic)
Do I need to get a magnesium test kit, or should I even bother at this stage?
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Old 09-16-2004, 11:54 AM   #2
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Your tank is still fairly new (right?), due to establishing processes both alk and calcium can be difficult to stabilize. It will get easier as the tank matures and you can figure out a true measure of the consumption in your tank. My alk is around 9-10 dKH (right around 3.0-3.5 meq/L)...and as long as you maintain yours above 3 you're fine. My Calcium is around 350-400ppm with the Oceanic salt. I always noticed a high alk and low calcium when using Instant Ocean. Wasn't bad, just got annoyed with having to manipulate it.
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Old 09-16-2004, 12:28 PM   #3
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Also keep in mind that the higher the alk gets, the harder it will be to correct a lower Ca imbalance. The key is to get the two balanced first and then worry about the actual levels later. In your case this would mean concentrating solely on the Ca additions for the next few days or a much easier solution would be several water changes.

Once alk and Ca are in balance, raising the levels to the desired amount becomes much easier. As Hoops pointed out though, it can take time to acustom yourself with the rates of depletion. I actually don't worry too much about the actual levels at any given time as long as they are balanced and within NSW.

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Old 09-16-2004, 01:42 PM   #4
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so my Alk levels are good in the 3-3.5meq/L...just have kinda low calcium. I'll do more calcium dosing then to get those levels up. I have a water change lined up for tomorrow, so I'll see what my IO mixed water is like, and adjust it to what I want, do the water change, and then the next day add more Ca to keep bringing up the levels.

Also, mixing Kalk, it's normall 1 teaspoon to 1 gallon of R/O right? If my kalk drip container is only 16 oz, could I do 2 teaspoons per 1 gallon, and just run the drip slower? Right now I have to refill the container daily.
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Old 09-16-2004, 02:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Also, mixing Kalk, it's normall 1 teaspoon to 1 gallon of R/O right? If my kalk drip container is only 16 oz, could I do 2 teaspoons per 1 gallon, and just run the drip slower? Right now I have to refill the container daily.
You could add 1 Tablespoon if you want, it doesn't really matter as the solution can only be saturated to 100%**, the rest will settle out. Which you should be doing if you are not....mix the kalkwasser and then let it sit for a few hours. The clear liquid can then be decanted out and dripped into the aquarium. You want to avoid adding the solids as they will not improve calcium.

** There are methods to increase the saturation, such as using vineger...but this is more complicated and should be utilized after you are comfortable adding a basic kalk mixture for calcium maintainance.
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Old 09-16-2004, 03:46 PM   #6
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sorry i wasn't more clear. I do indeed mix the kalk in a 1gallon jug, then about 12 hrs later I siphon off the top into a 16oz old AmQuel bottle, which then drips into the tank.

Sounds like my kalk is a little diluted...I just didn't want to overdo it. Thanks!
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Old 09-16-2004, 04:48 PM   #7
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16 oz isn't much in terms of kalkwasser additions. A lot of people add gallons of this stuff per week. I add about 5 gallons a week to a 75 gal reef.
If you can only add small amounts at a time I would stick with the two part solutions added daily like you are doing now. Don't bother with the kalkwasser until you can do it as part of your auto top off system. It's not worth the bother IMO.
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Old 09-16-2004, 04:58 PM   #8
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The saturation point for kalk is about 2 teaspoons per gallon of water. I agree with the two part additive though, if using kalk and not having a large CaCO3 demand you'll end up with large swings in your chemistry which you do not want. The two part liquid would allow for smaller more controlled additions.

As far as your imbalance, wait and see what the water change yields but you'll most likely need some type of CaCl additions to bring it back into balance. It really depends on the salts chem and the amount of water you swap out.

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