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Old 12-24-2007, 12:05 AM   #1
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water quality ?

Currently I have a 75 gallon tank with a yellow tang, a blue hippo tang, 2 percs, and four green chromis. The tank has been up for nearly six months now, I have 90 pounds of live rock (adding at least 50 more pounds of base and live rock in the next two weeks) My water paramaters are as follows:

Ammonia 0 , nitrite 0 , nitrate 50 , PH 7.8-8.0 , Alk 1.7-2.8 mh
Phosphate 1.0 , saltinity 1.025

I have not tested my tank for calcium yet however in the new batch I made last night with reef crystals at 1.025 saltinity all my paramaters were zero except for phosphate which was at 0.5 ppm, ALK 3.6, PH 8.2, and calcium at 350 (using tap water)

Is this low calcium reading normal for a fresh batch of reef crystals? Why is my ALK and PH so low in my tank compared to my fresh SW and what can I do to get those levels up ? and what does DKH stand for ? I have been doing smallish 4 gallon water changes weekly and sometimes twice a week but plan on doing a large maybe 40 to 50 percent water change to knock out the nitrates. I also have a question about sailfert calcium tests. Are they reliable ? and do I have to add each drop individually or can I speed the process up and add say 5 drop at a time ?

Thanks in advance and happy holidays
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Old 12-24-2007, 01:46 AM   #2
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Wow... lots of stuff there. Let's see if I can take a crack at some of these!

Quote:
Is this low calcium reading normal for a fresh batch of reef crystals? and what does DKH stand for ?
First off... yes, this is normal for RC in my experience. For me, using DI water, RC mixes up at 1.025 with around 360ppm Ca and about 8 dKH (2.8 meq/l). I get my Ca levels up by adding an appropriate amount of TurboCa in my water change water. That, in addition to using a 2-part additive daily, keeps my Ca between 380 and 400. My alkalinity stays between 8 and 9 dkH, and I don't think the levels you note are low at all.

Quote:
Why is my ALK and PH so low in my tank compared to my fresh SW and what can I do to get those levels up ?
Your tank alkalinity is lower than your new salt water because your tank is using the alkalinity reserves to keep you pH levels stable. Salt water by itself doesn't "use" alkalinity, but the biological system in your tank does. Same thing goes with Calcium. Same thing with pH. You can increase your alkalinity in your tank by adding a buffer, or the alkalinity portion of a 2-part Ca/Alk additive.

Quote:
and what does DKH stand for ?
Degrees Carbonate (or Karbonate, if you want the official German usage!) Hardness. It's just another measure of alkalinity. 1 meq/l (milliequivalent/liter) is equal to 2.8 dKH.

Quote:
I have been doing smallish 4 gallon water changes weekly and sometimes twice a week but plan on doing a large maybe 40 to 50 percent water change to knock out the nitrates.
4 gallons per week is only about 5% a week. That's pretty small. Minimum I'd do is 10% a week. That should keep your nitrates a little better in check, once you get them down. Be careful if you do a 50% water change - with that large of a water change you're going to want to get your new water to be pretty close to your tank water. I'd probably go for 30% water changes, and just do more of them.

Quote:
I also have a question about sailfert calcium tests. Are they reliable ? and do I have to add each drop individually or can I speed the process up and add say 5 drop at a time ?
I've used the AP and Salifert Ca tests, and both seem reliable. The AP seems a bit more touchy, but the Salifert tests are consistent and seem to be dead on, all the time. Others will say Salifert is the best you can get for the money. I'd probably agree, but the AP tests are a pretty good value too. Regarding the drops, you don't need to do it drop by drop. If you know about where your Ca level is, you can put in however many drops it takes to get you to within 60ppm or so of your target, and then shake it up good. Then go drop by drop. For me, I usually shoot in 70ml of the solution, and then go drop by drop.

One thing that should be of concern for you is your phosphates. If you have corals, ANY phosphates are not good. In addition, phosphates will fuel nuisance algae. With your levels of 1.0ppm, I'm guessing you have an algae issue? Seeing that your freshly made up saltwater has 0.5ppm, that's where your problem is coming from. As long as you keep using that source water, your phosphates are going to keep creeping up on you. If you can't set up a RO/DI system for cleaning up your source water, then you should check out one of the Phosphate absorbing sponges or media to try and get those levels down.
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Old 12-24-2007, 08:13 AM   #3
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Different salts have different results. I use Oceanic and have calcium levels of 450-480. I`m not playing down reef Crystals as my research leads me to believe that they all have different advantages. If that is all you are getting as far as your calcium you might want to supplement your calcium. I rarely say that to anyone but 350 is really low for a reef tank. It probably would be OK for a few corals but if you are having a full blown reef then you`ll need to raise it. Read these.

http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.php

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewto...=832664#832664

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume...mpressions.htm
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Old 12-24-2007, 01:58 PM   #4
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To be quite honest I have not run into any major algae problems. I had a little cyno bacteria however I cleared that up and I am running some phosphate reducing media as a RODI unit is not much of an option at this point. I have no corals presently but am wanting to start adding some corals in they next few weeks , prob in about a month.

What can I do to keep my PH and ALK up and more consistent ? just more frequent water changes ?
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:24 PM   #5
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I also use RC (now) and like Kurt I supplement my PWC water with TurboCa. If you don't have any corals or clams then you don't need to supplement Ca.

You need to get rid of that PO4, and it looks like it's coming from your tap water. Get a RODI system if you can afford it. They're just over a $100.00 on eBay. You may want to consider getting the RODI system now and wait a few more months on the corals. You'll be better off in the long run.

You should increase the size of your water changes to 8 - 10 gallons /week. Do that for at least a month before considering whether or not to start dosing anything else.

I use the Salifert and LaMott kits. They are considered the 'best' by most folks. I don't know of any independent tests of test kits to guage accuracy and consistency, though that would be nice.
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Old 12-24-2007, 03:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by JoshsReef
What can I do to keep my PH and ALK up and more consistent ? just more frequent water changes ?
I'd do larger water changes, not necessarily more frequent. As cmor mentions, 8-10 gallons/week should help in keeping your pH and alk up. Your levels aren't terribly low, but they could use bumping up a bit. I bet the larger water changes will do the trick with no dosing required.

Regarding your salt mix, there are pros and cons with all of them. While RC is somewhat low in Ca, it is easily corrected without throwing the balance of things all out of whack. Most folks seem to pick a salt, learn how to work with it, and stick with it.

I'd really get those phospahtes down to 0.0 before you start adding any corals. Levels of 0.5ppm in your source water imply that you aren't going to get any better than that. Ever. And corals are not going to like that, from what I've read. If an RO/DI unit isn't possible (not sure why... they don't need to be permanently installed) then you're going to spend even more money on phosphate reducing thingies (reactor, sponges, media, etc) than your RO/DI unit to start with. Good to hear you're not having algae issues though. You must be a neat and tidy feeder that overfeed the fish!
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Old 12-24-2007, 05:38 PM   #7
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Well i was hoping that using phosphate reducing media would keep my phosphates in check even though I knew I was adding just a little bit into the system with my fresh sw. Really not using an RODI unit is not about the money, mainly because I do not know anything about them and I really do not have a place to put it. I still live at home with my parents, I just graduated from college and prob will be here for about a year to a year and a half honestly. I really want to avoid at all costs bringing a RODI unit into houuse because my parents really are not too interested any more aquarium stuff throughout there house. If it was possible to hook the unit up make some water and put it back in its box then I would have no problem with it but otherwise I just do not have anywhere to really go with the unit at this time.
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Old 12-26-2007, 03:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Joshsreef
to hook the unit up make some water and put it back in its box then I would have no problem with it but otherwise I just do not have anywhere to really go with the unit at this time.
That is what I do. I keep my RO/DI unit under my bathroom sink. When I need water I just hook it up to the faucet overnight using a garden hose adapter and usually make a weeks worth of RO/DI water at a time. Assuming you have some where you can store a few days worth of water at a time, it may be possible. I use a trashcan dedicated for RO/DI water for storage.
FWIW I just tested some ReefCrystal's last week. I got my "usual" numbers w/ a refractometer, Salifert Alk, and Seachem Ca and Mg tests.
SG-1.025
Alk- 4.34
Ca- 320
Mg- ~1145-1200
Nitrate- 0
I boost the Ca and Mg before use.
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Old 12-26-2007, 03:30 PM   #9
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I had a similar situation with installing an RO/DI unit for quality water. If you are looking for an RO/DI unit you can box up after use, check out this system:

http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/ro-counter-detail.htm

It's a bit more pricey than most units, but it does the job and the membranes will last you a while. And more important, it's easy to connect and disconnect after use.
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