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Old 11-21-2004, 10:43 AM   #1
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How do you test your calcium level?

I've been slowly going through the process of converting my FO tank to house inverts as well. I ended up purchasing a Calcium Test kit made by Salifert (It was the only test kit that I could find). Anyway, I performed the test twice, but both times the readings measured off the charts (higher than 500 ppm). I don't think this measurement is correct because I haven't started adding calcium supplements or kalk yet. To be honest, I really didn't like the Salifert test kit. There were a lot of steps and the last step requires you to complete the test by releasing a liquid drop by drop (very tedious) into the test tube until the color of the water changes. My water never changed colors and that is why I had the suspect measurements of over 500 ppm. I don't think I used the kit incorrectly, but I also find it hard to believe that my calcium levels are that high. What do you use to test your calcium levels and how do you test them? I would be willing to try another brand of test kit, if anyone knows of a good one.
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Old 11-21-2004, 12:28 PM   #2
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Salifert test kits are supposed to be very good. I use a red sea test kit and it sounds like it works the same way and I have had no problems with it. Take some water to your lfs and get them to test it. If it doesn't match with your kit it might be too old or you could get them to test it with your kit to see if you're doing something wrong(sometimes those test kits can be well testy!)
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Old 11-21-2004, 12:32 PM   #3
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I've used a couple of Ca test kits and Salifert is by far the best. I don't think you're going to find a Ca kit that doesn't use a titration (the drop by drop part). I would try asking Habib in the salifert forum at reefcentral.com, he always seems to help everyone out with their kit ?'s.

http://reefcentral.com/forums/forumd...s=&forumid=196
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Old 11-21-2004, 01:10 PM   #4
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I would also suggest you test your alkalinity levels. If quite low, it would begin to explain the high calcium levels. Even without Ca additions is more than possible to have elevated levels due to low Mg or imbalanced alk.

How often do you do water changes, what % and what salt?

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Old 11-21-2004, 02:09 PM   #5
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Not meaning to hijack this thread at all, but I am interested as well in this Ca test kit issue. I'm wondering if someone could post whether or not this testing is really necessary if 10% water changes are done every 2 weeks. (what type of tanks need it?)

I have read and heard of number of things and not really sure if Ca testing is really neccessary? I am running a 33 gal tank with small amount of live rock (for now) and hoping to add some invertebrates and a couple of small fish? Is the test kit needed? What tanks do you actually need Ca suppliments for?
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Equipment: 33G SW Reef tank (pic), 192W Coralife PC lighting, PHs for H2O circulation, Red Sea Berlin Classic Skimmer
Aquascaping: 3" DSB, 50lb live rock (~35 lbs home made Cement Base Rock)
Clean Up Crew: Blue Leg hermits, Cerith snails, Astrea Snails, Stomatella snails, Brittlestar, banded brittles.
Critters: Hawaiian feather duster, Coral Banded Shrimp, Emerald Crab
Corals: Open Brain Coral, Cabbage coral, 4 RBTAs, Melon mushrooms, green Zoos, yellow polyps, finger Leather, orange Zoos, Brown Zoos, Chocolate Zoos, Xenia, GSP, Kenya Tree Coral, 2 acropora SPS, blue sponge, candy cane
Fish/Inverts: Maroon Clownfish, Scooter Blenny, Coral Beauty dwarf angel, Sea Hare
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Old 11-21-2004, 03:12 PM   #6
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Calcium is more important in reef tanks as most corals require ca for growth. It also helps with coraline growth
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Old 11-21-2004, 03:54 PM   #7
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For a fish only tank, you wouldn't need to worry about calcium as much, I would still have a calcium kit as well as alkalinity, pH, ammonia, nitrite,nitrate and phosphate on hand. You'll use the pH, nitrate, and phosphate kits more often but Ca, alk, ammonia and nitrite kits come in handy when you suspect something is amiss.
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Old 11-21-2004, 04:35 PM   #8
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I perform 20% water changes every 2 to 3 weeks or so. I've been using Reef Crystals salt. From the responses that I've been getting it sounds like maybe I'm doing something incorrectly. I just ran out of alk test and I need to get refills. Perhaps my alk is imbalanced and my calcium level is actually really high... Sounds like I've got more research to do.
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Old 11-22-2004, 12:01 AM   #9
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i bought a couple of mushrooms from someone today and we got on the calcium topic. they said it is possible to have high calcium if you are adding it and have no corals to use it

just a thought, does reef crystals have added calcium compared to regular instant ocean. i may be way off base

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Old 11-22-2004, 01:58 AM   #10
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Unfortunately, there's a lot of confusion concerning Ca. Yes, there is a lot of life that consumes Ca...but it consumes Alk at the same time. Too often, people simply start adding Ca to their tank without regard to the Alk. They are linked and exist in a balance. They get used up together.

If you replace only Ca, with a Ca additive...you throw everything out of whack. You have to replace both using a balanced addition.

Water changes will introduce new, balanced water into the system. That will help maintain this balance. But if your creatures are consuming Ca/Alk water changes alone won't keep up.
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Old 11-22-2004, 09:46 AM   #11
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Yes, calcium and Alk are related and need to be in balance with one another.

As for the salifert test...sounds like my SeaChem reef success Calcium test kit. The single drop titration is necessary for accurate testing. Cheaper test kits which don't do a titration will give you very inaccurate results (typically they just give 10-50ppm type ranges, or low-medium-high).

Stick with the Salifert, and remember that reef keeping is a slow, patient, methodical hobby which requires plenty of water tests.
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Old 11-22-2004, 07:12 PM   #12
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One more qeustion on this subject of Ca/Alk and dosing. Is it OK then to add them both at once and does it really matter what time of day to add them. My LFS (a decent one) said to only dose one at a time and then to only do this in the morning when the pH is the lowest, is this important or not?

I really only have time in the evening for things so hope this won't matter when it is done or if both at once...

Also, I assume you can dose aerated water for evap top off the day before, as dosing and adding right away makes the tank a little cloudy for a while it seems...

Thanks again!!
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Equipment: 33G SW Reef tank (pic), 192W Coralife PC lighting, PHs for H2O circulation, Red Sea Berlin Classic Skimmer
Aquascaping: 3" DSB, 50lb live rock (~35 lbs home made Cement Base Rock)
Clean Up Crew: Blue Leg hermits, Cerith snails, Astrea Snails, Stomatella snails, Brittlestar, banded brittles.
Critters: Hawaiian feather duster, Coral Banded Shrimp, Emerald Crab
Corals: Open Brain Coral, Cabbage coral, 4 RBTAs, Melon mushrooms, green Zoos, yellow polyps, finger Leather, orange Zoos, Brown Zoos, Chocolate Zoos, Xenia, GSP, Kenya Tree Coral, 2 acropora SPS, blue sponge, candy cane
Fish/Inverts: Maroon Clownfish, Scooter Blenny, Coral Beauty dwarf angel, Sea Hare
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Old 11-22-2004, 07:14 PM   #13
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My ESV B-Ionic instructions say to dose Alk, wait for the cloudiness/snowstorm to stop, then do the Ca. It also recommends the morning.
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Old 11-22-2004, 07:21 PM   #14
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OK, I'll likely just do them on separate days then or alk in prepared water, then add ca at time it's going in the tank. Anyone know why this is, is it just a pH thing or what??
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Equipment: 33G SW Reef tank (pic), 192W Coralife PC lighting, PHs for H2O circulation, Red Sea Berlin Classic Skimmer
Aquascaping: 3" DSB, 50lb live rock (~35 lbs home made Cement Base Rock)
Clean Up Crew: Blue Leg hermits, Cerith snails, Astrea Snails, Stomatella snails, Brittlestar, banded brittles.
Critters: Hawaiian feather duster, Coral Banded Shrimp, Emerald Crab
Corals: Open Brain Coral, Cabbage coral, 4 RBTAs, Melon mushrooms, green Zoos, yellow polyps, finger Leather, orange Zoos, Brown Zoos, Chocolate Zoos, Xenia, GSP, Kenya Tree Coral, 2 acropora SPS, blue sponge, candy cane
Fish/Inverts: Maroon Clownfish, Scooter Blenny, Coral Beauty dwarf angel, Sea Hare
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Old 11-22-2004, 07:23 PM   #15
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Any type of additive that buffers alkalinity is best added in the AM. Even if you do it just before leaving for work. It definately reduces the impact to the daily change in pH. The Ca additive can be added at any time but should be done so several hours after the alk addition to be on the safe side. For most of the 2 part liq, you can usually add it much sooner depending on the water flow of the tank.

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Old 11-22-2004, 07:32 PM   #16
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OK thanks everyone, I guess once you get used to things, it will be less time consuming working with the test kits and dosing. For now, I'll do it as I can and get into a routine for AM delivery then. Thanks Mate!!
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Equipment: 33G SW Reef tank (pic), 192W Coralife PC lighting, PHs for H2O circulation, Red Sea Berlin Classic Skimmer
Aquascaping: 3" DSB, 50lb live rock (~35 lbs home made Cement Base Rock)
Clean Up Crew: Blue Leg hermits, Cerith snails, Astrea Snails, Stomatella snails, Brittlestar, banded brittles.
Critters: Hawaiian feather duster, Coral Banded Shrimp, Emerald Crab
Corals: Open Brain Coral, Cabbage coral, 4 RBTAs, Melon mushrooms, green Zoos, yellow polyps, finger Leather, orange Zoos, Brown Zoos, Chocolate Zoos, Xenia, GSP, Kenya Tree Coral, 2 acropora SPS, blue sponge, candy cane
Fish/Inverts: Maroon Clownfish, Scooter Blenny, Coral Beauty dwarf angel, Sea Hare
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Old 11-23-2004, 09:29 AM   #17
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are you topping off with aerated tap water? If so, I wouldn't unless your tap water has no hardness.
topping off for evaporation with semi hard tap water will increase the alk in the tank, since minerals don't evaporate.
case in point: my tap water is 8dKh and 11dGh. however the 20gallon upstairs is open-top so I do lots of top offs...it's now up to 13dKh and 17dGh in just 3 weeks. Not a great idea for FW...certainly not good for SW.
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Old 11-23-2004, 02:08 PM   #18
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I use the Salifert test kits for CA, MG, ALK, Phosphate, Iodine, and Stront. I really like them. Although in particular, the Ca one has 1 bottle (CA-2 I think) that needs to have a better dropper on it. Sometimes it is difficult to get 8 good drops and have to start over. I agree that you need to test for ALK, and MG to get an idea of how balanced the water is. You might want to test your fresh SW too so you know what you are adding to your tank. Also, shelf life is important. I replace all my test kits every 3-4 months after they are open. Be careful not to contaminate the reagents
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