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Old 01-01-2004, 10:41 AM   #1
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Newbie to salt

Well another newbie here. I have had a 55 gallon freshwater for about 3 years so somewhat familiar to the fish thing. However got a 125 gallon saltwater tank some months ago and now how it set up with the following:
~ 125 sealife system wet/dry
~mag 12 in the sump
~1 small pump about middle ways down in the tank for middle water rotation

I bought 3 damsels from a LFS the other day and have 2 yellow tail and 1 black and white stripe. Had them since 12/28 and all seemed to be doing well. Got up this morning and the black and white damsel had died. Tested the water and found the PH to be 78. I assumed this is what did him in but the other 2 are ok.
My question is, each day I add about 1/2 to 1 gallon of water with water conditioner to the sump. I had not been buffering the water so I assume this is why the PH was at 78. When I set it up it was around 80-81. Are you supposed to add buffer each time you add water to the sump? If so how much do you know to add? I added about 1/2 TSP this time. Im using the Kent marine super buffer.

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Old 01-01-2004, 04:44 PM   #2
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If you tested your PH in the AM try also testing it right before the lights go out on your normal day/night cycle. PH will rise during the day usually. A low PH in the morning implys poor oxygenation of the water.

I drip kalkwasser but thats only to keep my calcium levels up because of the corals I have. I dont buffer any of my other tanks when I replace evaporated water.

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Old 01-03-2004, 10:37 PM   #3
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I have learned that sometimes damsels will kill each other also so if your others are doing good i have never buffered my tanks and have had good success you using RO water?
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Old 01-14-2004, 09:12 AM   #4
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Fishman, remember that damsels are territorial. I had bought 5 yellow tailed and while they were in QT, the bully of them all, beat one of the others to death. That was a few months ago and the other four are fine, so it could just be a case of conspecific aggression.
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Old 01-14-2004, 01:21 PM   #5
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If the 2 yellow tales beat the striped damsel to death it would be extremely noticable in that the striped should have been missing fins and scales all over the place. I had a striped damsel that was beaten by a territorial pair of clownfish. they faught for 2 days until i put the damsel in QT, unfortanatly a day later he succombed to his injuries. - only fish ive ever lost. When I removed him he was missing his tail, a bunch of scales, most of the dorsal fin, and all other fins had been badly badly shredded. If this was a beating death i think it would have been aparent and you would not have thought it was the ph.
For your tanks sake i hope it was a beating. Good Luck-
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Old 01-15-2004, 10:07 PM   #6
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Hi Fishman,

I am probably talking too much on this forum, but I could not resist your post as it sounds sooooo familiar (I have a 55 fresh, had it for a long time and then bought 125 Marine set-up and lost many a fish to PH bounce at the begining of my trials and tribulations).

I use the same Buffer Kent Super dKH buffer in my FO tank. It is an excellent product and helped be out greatly when first getting my water chemistry set. As you likely know PH is a measurement of ionic balance between Hydorgen and Hydroxl, typically referred to as Acid vs. Alkilinity. There are two other chemical properties which largely dictate how PH will behave in a solution. Together they are usually referred to as buffering. Buffering comes in 2 flavors - Calcium/magnesium compounds (general hardness) and Carbonate hardness (repectively gKH and dKH). The buffering does not really effect the PH directly but sort of stabilizes it by providing molecules that will bind with the Ions that affect PH. For example as an acid is added to a solution (let's say your tank water, let's say via the cycle, i.e. Nitrates - which I believe is Ester of Nitric Acid), if there is a high level of hardness then the PH will not shift to the Acid side - i.e. NO PH BOUNCE. If there is no buffering then the additional acid will imediately shift the PH lower.

You can use Super Buffer pretty freely until you reach your desired PH but only add it at the doses recommened by the package. Also monitor PH closely as it can cause PH drift - i.e. it will continue to neutralize all Hydroxl Ions in the tank until the PH starts to rise above say 8.3 - this happened to me and for a while my tank was running at 8.65 and It took me many a 40 gallon tub of RO water to remove enough buffering to stabalize the PH in the 8.3 range.

I'd be a little surprised if 7.8 killed a fish that quickly - for one thing, since PH is based on Log, 7.0 being 10 times as acidic as 8.0, 7.8 is not that far off from a comfortable 8.0 for that fish - it seems he should've been able to handle that for a while and you would have noticed some stress behaviour for perhaps a week before his demise - but that's only a guess. What test kits are you using, perhaps your PH is actually lower. You might want to consider a 100 buck investment in a pinpoint monitor.

I've found that with Buffering PH - go slow and measure alot (as suggested earlier, once in the morning and once in the evening as Lighting and daily organism activity affect PH). Once you hit the target PH with the super buffer (and this can sometimes take awhile) it will actually be very difficult to lower your PH even if you wanted to.

Anyway hope some of this helps.

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Old 01-15-2004, 10:14 PM   #7
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Nice post Nucleus, straightforward!

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Old 01-16-2004, 08:52 AM   #8
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Thx for the recognition. Coming from a pro like yourself, I take that as a warm welcome to this excellent site.


"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
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