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PH, ALk, Ca, NH4 help please

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kylem

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Mar 22, 2004
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Milton-Freewater
My PH is low...7.9 in morning and 8.0 durring the day.
I boosted my alkalinty but it dropped my Ca. So I add some Ca to bring it up and then my PH drops some more. I add Washing Soda..just a little in premixed in some water and add slowly during the day. The PH goes up to 8.1 but then so does my NH4...it jumps to 0.3 ppm and the Hermit crabs are feeling it...I added more Ca and the Alk drops and so does my PH...I did a water change.20% to reduce the NH4 to normal...works fine but now I am back to square one. I checked the Phosphates...0.25ppm..pretty low.
How do I get my PH up without these problems? Currently I use a 6:1 ratio of Baking Soda:Washing Soda for a Buffer.
 

cwcross

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Aug 18, 2004
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why do you have NH4 in your system? How old is it? NH4 should be basically zero in an established tank. Are you precipitating any CaCO3? I suggest kalk instead of a two part additive, that way alk and ca stay balanced. What is value of alk and ca?
 

kylem

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Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
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Location
Milton-Freewater
I didn't have any NH4 in my system until I tried to increase the PH. My tank is 6 months old. I siphoned the bottom of the tank when I found the NH4 came up. For the Most part I haven't had any NH4 since the first breakin period.
I have quite a bio load tho and I have cut back on my feeding. I added the culurpa to my refugium tank again to help reduce the wastes.
My alk is now 150 ppm and my PH is 8.0
I don't know what my Ca is right now because my test kit run out and I order one but its not hear yet.
My larger hermit crabs have finally resumed there normal activities and just molted again.
What do you mean by precipating CaCO3..do you mean residue of Ca build up?
By the way I really learned alot from the Chemisty thread on Phosphates!
 
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cwcross

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Aug 18, 2004
Messages
250
kylem said:
I siphoned the bottom of the tank when I found the NH4 came up. For the Most part I haven't had any NH4 since the first breakin period.
I have quite a bio load tho and I have cut back on my feeding. I added the culurpa to my refugium tank again to help reduce the wastes.
This should help. I would imagine that the NH4 is coming from an incomplete cycle. If you recently added some new fish or somesuch, this could be the case. I wouldn't expect NH4 to come from the pH additive itself. The change in pH may have altered the ratio of NH3 to NH4 but I wouldn't expect this really to be very drastic.

My alk is now 150 ppm and my PH is 8.0
I don't know what my Ca is right now because my test kit run out and I order one but its not hear yet.
People normally quote AlK in units of meq/L or dKH. I'm not sure if 150ppm is low or high. Can you please quote numbers in the other units?

My larger hermit crabs have finally resumed there normal activities and just molted again.
What do you mean by precipating CaCO3..do you mean residue of Ca build up?
I find it strange that when you raise Alk, Ca goes down and that when you raise Ca, Alk goes down. I'm not sure what to make of this. If Ca and Alk get very out of balance or either get too high then it is possible for the calcium carbonate concentration to reach a point where it is insoluble in the water. At this point it will begin to drop out of solution and you might see scaly build up on the glass or heater etc, or you might notice small white flakes floating around in your system.

It sounds to me like your system is out of balance. I would suggest for you to use Kalk to adjust Ca and Alk. Because this is a balanced additive, it is much harder to get Ca and Alk out of balance.

If you really can't get your system under control, I would suggest doing a couple of large water changes back to back (maybe even 3) to help balance the natural levels of these using the salt. From that point use Kalk instead of a 2 part. The only real reason a person would need a 2 part Ca/Alk additive is if the calcium demand of the system was so high that Kalk itself couldn't keep up with the demand. At that point a stronger supplementation strategy would be necessary and a 2-part might be warrented. Also, if you pH is chronically low, this could be due to CO2 buildup inside your house if you have been running a gas furnace and your house if very tight and insulated. If you have a skimmer, these problems can be more exagerated.

Also, if you system is only 6 months old and your Ca test is already gone, you are really doing a lot of testing. I only suggest to test 1/week. A 25 test kit should then last you 8 months or longer. If you are trying to keep your tank balanced very frequently this can lead to problems. Ca and Alk are not really very critical to health. You should target the 380-420 range and don't adjust until you are at the bottom of the range.

By the way I really learned alot from the Chemisty thread on Phosphates!
Thanks...Collin
 

kylem

A piece of the Reef!
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
85
Location
Milton-Freewater
This should help. I would imagine that the NH4 is coming from an incomplete cycle. If you recently added some new fish or somesuch, this could be the case.
I rearanged the tanks rock after I drained the tank to do some work...took 7 hours to empty tank, do the work, and refill. Some of the algae died on the tank walls...so the die off and inbalance may have come from this. I had some die off from the algae on the rocks since the light changed for them. Also it was quite awhile since I siphoned off the bottom of the tank. I am sure it was from this. The tank has rebalance since then.

People normally quote AlK in units of meq/L or dKH. I'm not sure if 150ppm is low or high. Can you please quote numbers in the other units?
Ok I recalculated the conversion. The PH is @8.0 and the Alk is 8.4 dkh

I find it strange that when you raise Alk, Ca goes down and that when you raise Ca, Alk goes down. I'm not sure what to make of this. If Ca and Alk get very out of balance or either get too high then it is possible for the calcium carbonate concentration to reach a point where it is insoluble in the water. At this point it will begin to drop out of solution and you might see scaly build up on the glass or heater etc, or you might notice small white flakes floating around in your system
Ok my tank was in balance at the begining but you are correct. My heaters have a calcium build up and I did see some flakes floating around. My Ca was high at one time..over 500 ppm. I added the 6:1 mix to bring up the alk and reduce the Ca. However I was trying to use the CaC03 to increase the PH..which was a mistake because... I have a propane furnace and I should have more ciculation of air in the house so I probably have a excess build up of CO2 like you said earlier. I will try and vent some air into the house and open some windows.

Thanks for you help!
 

cwcross

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 18, 2004
Messages
250
kylem said:
I added the 6:1 mix to bring up the alk and reduce the Ca.
Ok, bringing up the alk will not generally reduce calcium. Calcium and alk in this sense are indepenent. The only way bringing up alk can reduce ca is if it causes precipitions, which isn't really bad but is not what you want.

However I was trying to use the CaC03 to increase the PH
Carbonate/bicarbonate will increase pH. Calcium itself will not. That is why kalk is good is because it adds ca and carbonate in the correct proportions and maintains balance.

..which was a mistake because... I have a propane furnace and I should have more ciculation of air in the house so I probably have a excess build up of CO2 like you said earlier. I will try and vent some air into the house and open some windows.

Thanks for you help!

yes, this is sort of a tough nut to crack in winter. If you have a skimmer, you can connect the air input line of the skimmer to a long tube and stick it out the window. This will ensure that fresh air enters your tank.
 

kylem

A piece of the Reef!
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
85
Location
Milton-Freewater
Thanks for your help. I got the PH up to 8.3 by opening some windows near the tank and sump. I will get an air line vented to the outside for the protein skimmer venturi hose.
Ca is now 380 ppm and alk is 110 ppm (6.16 dkh) and PH is 8.3
I added just a little Ca mix and pro-buffer together to bring the Ca and alk up a little.
 
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