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  1. #1
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    Trying to Increase Calcium...

    Hi all,

    I'm new to marine but have been into FW for many years.

    So far Things are working out fine but that might change once a few fish and mushroom coral are added in another couple of months when the tank's water will have ages for about four months.

    I have a 48 inch long 55 gallon tank with around 10 lbs of cured Fiji live rock (will add 40 more pounds when supplier has more) and standard 2-tube daylight tubes which will change to MH. Substrate is crushed coral and three weeks ago I added seven gallons of clean ocean water to the tank.

    I've been trying to increase the calcium from 320ppm to 400ppm for the past week and it seems as if the tank is resisting my attempts but that's where I need your experience.

    I have since added 125mL of Reef Complete which brings it up to where I want but it seems to drop back to between 340 and 360ppm the following day. Is it usually this difficult?

    Water conditions are:

    Ca - 400ppm (two hours after adding 15 more ml from this morning's add of 15 ml)
    KH - 110mg/L
    Ph - 8.4 (holds well)
    Nitrite - 0
    Nitrate - 5
    Ammonia - 0
    Phosphate - 0.5 mg/L
    Iron - 0
    SG - 1.023 (using a refractometer) same as the ocean water here
    Salinity - 30 (using a refractometer)
    79F with less than 1/2 degree variances

    Is it normally this much of a challenge to increase the calcium using Seachem's Reef Complete?

    BTW, I'll soon post some pics of the tank.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Dont worry about calcium until you have a few hard corals... 340 isn't so bad.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 110mg/L of KH... which tests are you using.

    You should probably get rid of the Crushed coral while it's still easy. It just trap crap. Either go with some sand or nothing at all.

    Personally, I would raise both the temp (to about 82F) and the SG to about 1.026.

    I think you should get all of your LR as soon as possible, because you'll probably run the risk of have another full blown cycle when you add it.

    Oh, and when did you start your tank?

    BTW, in the long run you'll probably want to switch to Reef advantage Calcium as you will go thru your reef complete pretty fast if you intend to keep hard corals.

    Good luck.

    -yvest

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by goth
    Dont worry about calcium until you have a few hard corals... 340 isn't so bad.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 110mg/L of KH... which tests are you using.

    You should probably get rid of the Crushed coral while it's still easy. It just trap crap. Either go with some sand or nothing at all.

    Personally, I would raise both the temp (to about 82F) and the SG to about 1.026.

    I think you should get all of your LR as soon as possible, because you'll probably run the risk of have another full blown cycle when you add it.

    Oh, and when did you start your tank?

    BTW, in the long run you'll probably want to switch to Reef advantage Calcium as you will go thru your reef complete pretty fast if you intend to keep hard corals.

    Good luck.

    -yvest
    Thanks for replying, Yvest,

    My tank was started one-month ago and the test kit I am using is by Nutrafin which is by Hagen. Perhaps not the best in the business but readily available here.

    I'm disappointed to read the suggestion that I remove all the crushed coral substrate - I paid over $100.00 and was told by a local dealer that is what I should have and was confirmed by some of the books I have. I do know that a lot of SW aquarists here grab sand from the ocean.

    110milligrams per litre - same as ppm so the booklet with the test kits claims in reference to Alkalinity hardness. The value I get from the kit is the same as my test kit for our pool reads so there must be some accuracy there.

  4. #4
    Senior Member gator's Avatar
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    I would keep your crushed coral, and increase the depth to 3 or 4 inches. It will collect detritus but with the right number of nassarius snails, a sand sifting goby, and organisms from your live rock which will colonize it, it will stay relatively clean and become and important part of your biological filter. There are many examples of successful tanks which use no liverock at all, just a deep sand bed and perhaps an in-sump refugium.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Well, I'm not against a deep sand bed... Sand doesn't trap detritus as much as CC.

    And it's alot easyer to get critters like the ones mentioned by gator to keep the sand clean. I'm not sure stars, nassarius and goby would be happy with a crushed coral substrate, but I could be wrong.

    Do some research about this subject now while you can still make the decision to remove it. Once your tank is fully populated, it would be alot harder to do.

    My 130G tank has a crushed coral substrate and if it would be easy I would take it out, but I can't do this without getting all the fish, corals, rock out of the tank, etc... I'm living with it, but I wish I didn't have to.

    For your alkalinity, I'm familiar with either meq (which are in the range of 2-4) of dkh (which are in the range of 7-10) so I dont know how much 110milligrams per litre represent. Maybe others could chime in.

    -yvest

  6. #6
    Moderator Krugar's Avatar
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    Unless you have pretty finely crushed coral, I don't know that I'd try to make a deep sand bed with it, the particle sizes are prety large and keeping it clean will become challenging.

    I agree with not worrying about calcium until you have something that needs it, or you're ramping up to have something that needs it.

    Here's some alk conversions:

    ppm / 17 = dKH
    dKH / 2.8 = meq/l

    so 110 ppm alk = 6.47 dKH = 2.31 meq/l

    You're balanced Ca at 2.31 meq/l is 407 ppm. So you're pretty darn close. To be perfect you'd want 1.96 meq/l (~93.3ppm alk) (http://home.comcast.net/~jdieck1/chem_calc3.html)

    What I'd suggest is that you test your alk after the ca drops, you may be adding too much too fast & causing it to precipitate out of the water. The after numbers will help.

    Failing that you may not have enough magnesium in the water, but before you buy a test kit for that, what salt mix are you using?

    Finally the test kits you have aren't the best, it could be your readings are just unreliable, I suggest you consider getting salifert test kits.

    Cheers!
    There is nothing so permanent as a temporary measure.

  7. #7
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    I think there are two things to consider:
    First, another test with calibrating solution (of known mg/L), or just calibrating solution to check usability of test (it could get frozen during shipping to the store). The only one I know is Seachem, but it's expensive (can be ordered online at bigals or mops, I think).

    The same water tested by Hagen's Nutrafin Calcium test (from 3 different boxes) was: 400, 480, 540 ppm (mg/L), by Seachem Reef Calcium 375 mg/L.

    Second, same about alkalinity tests:
    kH: Hagen 190 mg/L (way above 125 recommended) and Seachem Reef Mg & alk. - total 4.5 meq/L (with carbonate hardness 2.5 meq/L which is normal). Converter utility is at Hagen website, under aquatic -> utilities.

    Low calcium with normal alkalinity is corrected by one type of additives, low calcium with low alkalinity - by anothers, article on practical solutions is here:
    http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm

    So, Reef Complete is good especially for low calcium and high alkalinity (calcium choride based; info is on seachem website in FAQs or forums, where you can ask, they always answer).

    This is the best of my knowledge, may be helps.

    If you find less expensive way of testing, please let me know or post here - I have more tests and additives than livestock.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krugar
    Unless you have pretty finely crushed coral, I don't know that I'd try to make a deep sand bed with it, the particle sizes are prety large and keeping it clean will become challenging.

    I agree with not worrying about calcium until you have something that needs it, or you're ramping up to have something that needs it.

    Here's some alk conversions:

    ppm / 17 = dKH
    dKH / 2.8 = meq/l

    so 110 ppm alk = 6.47 dKH = 2.31 meq/l

    You're balanced Ca at 2.31 meq/l is 407 ppm. So you're pretty darn close. To be perfect you'd want 1.96 meq/l (~93.3ppm alk) (http://home.comcast.net/~jdieck1/chem_calc3.html)

    What I'd suggest is that you test your alk after the ca drops, you may be adding too much too fast & causing it to precipitate out of the water. The after numbers will help.

    Failing that you may not have enough magnesium in the water, but before you buy a test kit for that, what salt mix are you using?

    Finally the test kits you have aren't the best, it could be your readings are just unreliable, I suggest you consider getting salifert test kits.

    Cheers!
    Krugar,

    Thanks a lot for posting the conversions. Glad to know that I'm close to a balance.
    I'm trying to keep the calcium at this level to support good coraline algae growth and it's good experience for building a reef setup which I'll soon be doing.

    The salt I'm using is: Instant Ocean Reef Crystals

    Btw, the crushed coral isn't fine, it's the next size up but far from being coarse. Guess I will have to get used to the challenge of cleaning it. Besides, with my luck I'd get caught liberating the local beach of 15kg of sand

  9. #9
    Moderator Krugar's Avatar
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    Reef crystals are pretty good, I don't think that's your problem.

    Reading back over the post 125mL of reef complete all at once sounds high to me. Try adding the same amount over a couple days & see what happens. (Maybe split it to 2 doses of 65mL)

    Cheers!
    There is nothing so permanent as a temporary measure.

  10. #10
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    Help or advice needed again please...

    I have discovered that calcium takes up to 48 hours before you get an accurate reading after top-ups and that's why I'm where I'm at which is instead of my desired value of 420 - 450 ppm Ca; I have 600 ppm!

    The balanced alkalinity at this amount is 12.8meg/l and to get there I'd need to add 4.5tsp of Seachem's Reef Builder. This is based on the following link: http://home.comcast.net/~jdieck1/chem_calc3.html

    Should I do this or will calcium fall out of solution and form rock all over the place?

    I have a 55g tank and have already drained 10g which did not change the Ca value at all!

    The only thing in the tank is an active hermit crab and 35lbs of cured LR.

    Thanks and go easy on me - I'm still learning!

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