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  1. #1
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    Calcium/Alkalinity - Confusion

    Hi folks, I'm relatively new to the hobby and so far feel the research I have done is paying off. But one topic that I find very confusing is the relationship between calcium and alkalinity, and what levels I should be striving for in my FOWLR tank.

    Here's my concern, since my tank was started 4 months ago my PH has been very stable. I always get a reading of 8.2. Because I have 75lbs of LR - I want good coraline growth. I decided I better start paying attention to other readings beyond - ammonia, ph, nitrite, nitrate, salinity and temp. I bought both Hagen Calicium and Carbonate Hardness test kits. I also have Seachem Reef Builder and Marine Buffer as supplements along with their liquid Reef Calcium. I add the Marine Buffer whenever I do top off's. As far as the Reef Builder - my lfs told me to add a little (follow directions) twice a week..

    My concern is this: my Calcium tests are coming back alarmingly low - 200 mg/l. When I test my Alkalinity or Carbonate Hardness it seems too high - 210 mg/l or 11.76(dkh). I've since stopped adding the Reef Builder and have increased my doses of Reef Calcium. Does this seem like the right corrective action? How concerned should I be with the calcium and ALk readings?

    All other readings look good - Ammonia - 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 10mg/l, temp 78, salinity 1.023. I do a 15% water change every 2 weeks and use Instant Ocean salt for the changes. Any comments would be appreciated as I find this topic and the relationship between the chemicals confusing - even after reading a lot of other posts on the Internet!

  2. #2
    Senior Member ABahn's Avatar
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    Re: Calcium/Alkalinity - Confusion

    [i]. Does this seem like the right corrective action? How concerned should I be with the calcium and ALk readings? [/B]
    You're doing o.k.

    Stop the alkalinity, and continue with the calcium additive. Then measure again.

    Dont forget that measurements under 300mg/l for calcium arent reliable. If your fish are looking o.k. (unstressed) dont worry about it.

    I alternate my calcium and alk additives to keep things balanced. In your situation, (i.e. no corals) I would consider a balanaced additive, like KW, or ESV Bionic. I think you'll easily meet your tanks demands.

    Cheers,

    ABahn

  3. #3
    Senior Member ABahn's Avatar
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    One more thing, since magnesium is also buffering (alk) agent, you might as well measure it as well, and boost as reqd.

    Cheers

  4. #4
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    Thanks Abahn - what kind of supplement boosts Magnesium? I'm starting to think I should cut back on all additives and just let the salt mix in water changes take care of the water chemistry. I'm beginning to wonder if a lot of the additives are just 'snake oil' - how much difference do they really make - besides to your pocketbook.

  5. #5
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    IMO your AlK is not that high ! Mine is always around 13.5 and ph 8.3 . If I may make a suggestion however try the Seachem salt. You will find that is is much better balanced and has a lot more trace ingredients then IO. I changed a while a go and no more extra additive except a little iodine here and there
    JMO
    Cheers

  6. #6
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    Thanks Pierre-Michel. Is there much of a price difference in the salt? I did try Tropic Marin when I first started and it seemed like great salt. But IO is much more readily available in my city and it seems popular with reefers. But I do appreciate your suggestion - would like others opinions as well.

  7. #7
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    Yes it is more expensive but IMO it's the base of an auarium just like the water is ! I mas using IO also but I switched and very happy I did ! If you can't find it let me know I wll send you a bag via UPS

  8. #8
    Senior Member ALRHA's Avatar
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    based on many salt discussions on this site, Tropic Marin seems to top the list as one of the best salts to use.
    As far as the Magnesium, you can add any magnesium supplement. I use the E.S.V. and love it. If you are using E.S.V. B-Ionic, then you may as well use their magnesium as well. The magnesium will make maintaining you calcium a little easier.
    like everyone else said, just raise your calcium dosing to raise the levels.
    Albert
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  9. #9
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    Thanks Alpha - the magnesium supplement sounds like a wise idea!

  10. #10
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    This is a quote from Seachem's site
    I don't work for the company and do not want to start that would lead to an argument I just want to saqy that I had the same problem as Hendu and changing to Seachem made the problem go away so.... JMO

    ''The pK of the bicarbonate buffer in seawater is influenced by the calcium & magnesium content. With higher calcium levels, the buffer pK is shifted to a lower range; with high magnesium levels, the buffer pK is shifted to a higher range. Another factor to consider is that certain commercially available salt mixes contain too little carbonate and/or borate buffering and to much bicarbonate; this results in a shift to a lower buffering pK and an inability to buffer above 8.0. Additionally, certain organic acids being sold for the reef aquaria, can cause a constant battle with low pH.''

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