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  1. #1
    Senior Member tiffany's Avatar
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    Ionic balance and calcium chloride

    What is an 'ionic' imbalance, and how does calcium chloride affect this.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member GoSUV's Avatar
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    Re: Ionic balance and calcium chloride

    Originally posted by tiffany
    What is an 'ionic' imbalance, and how does calcium chloride affect this.
    In a reef tank, you need equal proportions of alk and Calcium to help buffer pH, and provide animals to perform their calcification functions. An "ideal" value of alk is 3.5-5 meq/L, and Ca at 375-450ppm. But that's not just that. They are not independent of each others, as high Ca will drive down alk and high alk will precipitate out Ca (driving down its value as well), so you must keep them "in balance" to avoid any one value being too high/too low.

    With a reef tank, the values of alk and Ca will slowly drift down together, as calcification occurs. What you want to do is to supplement both alk and Ca in a balanced fashion. Dripping Kalk, using two-part solutions or using a Ca reactor will achieve this. Some people don't have enough evaporation to effectively use kalk so they use a combination of these methods.

    Using baking soda to raise alk, and using Calcium Chloride to raise Ca is one way to cause an imbalance because these things only raise one value. People with fish only tanks only concern about alk so they just use baking soda to keep pH buffered, that's ok. But in a reef tank, if you don't have a regular balanced alk/Ca doage exercise, it's going to lead to ionic imbalance problems.

    Hope this is clear as mud.
    If the authors of "Finding Nemo" knew anything about Clownfishes, Marlin would turn into a female and Nemo would become her new husband.

  3. #3
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    Here is the calculator that I use to keep my alk & Ca in balance. http://www.kademani.com/reefchem.htm

    Randy Holmes-Farley posted the link in an answer to one of the questions on his forum.

    Vickie

  4. #4
    Senior Member tiffany's Avatar
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    So then 'ionic' is 'ion' or the atom or molecule with a net electrical charge that results from the loss or gain of electrons, these electrons would be effected by, in our example calc and Alk. So an Ionic imbalance would be the imbalance of these atoms or molecules.
    Thanks I now can say I know what an ion is....Ok, I cheated I used 'Tullocks dictionary of aquarium terms'.....:read:
    My Alk drops to 7dkh-2.5meg/L, and I don't know why, the calc is fairly-stable at 450ish and the ph is 8.2.
    What is causing the Alk to drop? I've checked the NSW and had the same problem with ASW. This is a fairly recent problem, say in the past 3 months or so and I have to check the Alk every second day. It drives me silly, and I'm going through an enormous amount of buffer.
    I might try another calc test kit, and see if there are discrepancies, I bought another ph and Alk test kits and the readings are the same.
    "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
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  5. #5
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    Tiffany,

    Let me guess. The tank is about a year old?

  6. #6
    Senior Member reefmutt's Avatar
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    I'm no chemist, but what I understand about the terms chloride and hydroxide is that they are the ionic makeup of the molecules hanging out with the calcium. When adding calcium chloride exclusively, I THINK that you begin to have too many chloride ions and you get an imballance. Hydroxide ( as in Kalkwasser) ions act differently in the tank and I THINK that they sort of fill in gaps in the chemical soup of the tank and therefore don't cause an imballance, UNLESS you add it too fast, then the rapid rise in ph will cause calcium and or buffers to precipitate- causing an ionic imballance.
    Usually asw is made with an alk pretty close to nsw-which is in fact, what you are getting as readings in your water. Asw is made this way so that all of the other buffers and calcium will properly dissolve when mixed.
    I don't really see a problem with your readings, as they are, except that your calcium in unnecissarily high ( there is no good reason to be above 400 -420). HOWEVER, if you need a LOT of buffer to keep your alk at 7 then there is a problem.
    Whenever I hear "I am going through an enormous amount of buffer" warning bells go off in my head.
    If you are adding a lot of buffer and the alk isn't going up that is strange, unless you have a monster tank with monster sps corals growing like weeds.
    What kind of buffer are you using? I find that the buffers designed to raise alk without having a dramatic and instant effect on ph are better. An example would be Seachem's 'reef builder' as opposed to their 'reef buffer' or 'marine buffer'
    What would happen if you didn't add that buffer? would the alk drop or hover around that range. If it stays put and you don't have a tank loaded with fast growing sps corals, you don't have a problem. If your tank is in the 60 gallon range and moderately stocked with a few soft corals and a few lps then you should really only need maybe half a teaspoon of buffer each day. And even that may be a lot depending on the buffer. If the alk drops dramatically after adding small amounts of buffer each day, I would say do a major water change-like 90% and get back to nsw levels and then start over.
    This way you know you have perfect balance in the tank and then you can start experimenting with SMALL amounts of buffer to raise the alk no higher than 8-10dkh or around 4 mg/l. The corals will love it especially if you are using nsw and it will give you the oppurtunity to establish base readings in the tank and then try to maintain them( except for the alk which will be raised JUST A LITTLE)
    Matt.

    Old system torn down to make a playroom.. planning a 62x42x28 high

  7. #7
    Senior Member tiffany's Avatar
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    Bvoss good guess, just add a couple years onto your estimate.......It's 3 years young....

    reefmutt thanks I was looking for the chem. info on that question, what you say makes sense, I think the prob is me here, the Alk is about 7dkh normally and I thought it had to be around 9-10 as per RS advise. So I've been using Kent's supper PH buffer to do the job, adding 2 tspns a week. That seemed like alot for me.
    As for the calc I'm getting another test kit, so that should give some ans, I may go to the RS-and get them to check it for me.
    I was going to get a Salifert, but they seem so complicated, with the powders and drops of this and that etc.... to use, so I'm considering a Red Sea one. What do you think?
    "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
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  8. #8
    Senior Member reefmutt's Avatar
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    I much prefer the Salifert kits, they are a little more complicated but more accurate and once you've used them a few times, they are easy.
    Yeah, based on your alk level and the amount of buffer you are using, I don't think you have a problem. I do, however, prefer Kent's alkalinity booster over the super ph buffer.
    The only need to have a slightly elevated alkalinity is to better hold ph. In a tank with lots of calcium sucking (and therefore alkalinity sucking) corals it is good to have it higher, but on average around 7-10 is fine. Don't get trapped into feeling that all the levels need to be on the high side- this is a common misconception- they don't need to be as long as they are stable.
    I think bvoss was getting at the possible issue of older tanks using up alkalinity faster than new tanks, this is why it is so important to test regularly- a reef is a dynamic mini evironment that needs regular monitoring.
    Matt.

    Old system torn down to make a playroom.. planning a 62x42x28 high

  9. #9
    Senior Member tiffany's Avatar
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    Thanks for that info.
    I'm not unhappy with bvoss, i've been working on Commercial Law and excel for 5 hours and I'm a little testy, and my bottom is numb......230 pages to go and I can go to sleep, it's 2.47am here.
    "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
    - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

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