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This weeks discussion " Additives

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mojoreef

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Alright lets get a weekly talk going about reef keeping. This week we will do additives. Lets talk about what kinds, what brands, what they do, why we need them and how they work in our tanks. Ask as many questions as you can and share as many experences that you want

Mike
 

Doug1

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OK I'll bite, in the past I have used several 2 part additives, I felt that B-ionic worked better than the others I tried. Problem with 2 part is that as you tank gets bigger or esp with stony corals in abundance, the calc/alk usage gets expensive with 2 part alone. I found that getting the levels ball park then dripping kalk (actually picKling lime) helped keep the levels up without using alot of the 2 part
 

SlowBoat

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When I had my 120 up and running I bought into the additives and was dosing magnesium, strontium, iodine, calcium, and an alkalinity buffer. I believe this caused more problems than it did any good. My alkalinity and calcium never would seem to balance out and with monthly water changes I would end up some where close to balanced.

For the 180 over the past 8 months I have only day water changes and dripped Kalkwasser. I normally drip 2.5 gallons daily mixed with 1oz of vinegar to help keep the PH from going to high. With this regime I have been able to maintain stable tank parameters and everything in my tank is thriving.

For past two weeks I have just begun to supplement with WM CalxMax 2 part Calcium/Alklanitity additive to help keep the levels up until I can get a Calcium Reactor online. I have not noticed any negative effects yet, but it has helped keep my calcium levels up around 450.
 

Doug1

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That kinda leads into my next question, at what point does investing in a calcium or kalk reactor become worth while? What are the pro's and cons of one versus the other? How many run both on heavily populated SPS tanks ?
 

mattseattle

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i just recently started using a 2 part additive thanks to the advice of mojoreef. i'm using the WM Calxmax additive. Before this I was using Turbo Calcium and a buffer to *try* to keep my calcium and alk levels in balance. I never could....one would go way up and the other would be down. I never could keep them balanced. Now with the 2 part additive it has taken a little time but the past 3 day's test readings have been in perfect balance and my calcium is remaining about 420 and alk is about 3.2. it has been quite a bit of work dosing twice daily to get the readings up to where i wanted them. 2 part additives are also expensive in my mind. it was 26.00 bucks for the WM stuff at Blue Sierra.

I've started researching a Calcium Reactor but I really have no idea what I need or even what is out there. Guess my question is what do I need for my 55 gallon? right now i only have a few stony corals but they are growing like a weed and i want to keep them going this way. i also want to be able to go out of town for a few days for the holidays without worrying about dosing and/or equipment overdosing or failure.

also i would like some input on where most reefers keep their alk and calc as well as how much calcium and alk their tanks use in say a 24 hour period. i've had my calcium drop from 420 down to 390/400 in a 24 hour period. i am not sure if this is normal because i don't know how much calcium coralline algae, stony corals, etc. can take out of the water in such a time frame.
 

mojoreef

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Yea this is a problem for most hobbists when they first start. We keep critters that put a demand on our water makeup, mainly calcium and alk. Where the problem lies is that all the elements that make up the waters chemistry are linked. To try to dose individual elements such as Slowboat listed is really a shot in the dark. Athough we have some good testing kits out thier its tough to dial in the elements exactly when dealing in the part per million.
This is where 2 part additives come into play. Most 2 part additives are what they call ionically balanced (or they have all the exact elements in them in thier exact purportions). so this makes it a really easy and good way of balancing your tank properly. BUT they are an expensive to use all the time. That and unless its the warner marine product they are food grade and contain alot of added elements we dont want. (metals and so on).
The best way I have found to control your system is to use the 2 parters to raise your levels to the level you want and then move over to the use of Kalk or a reactor to maintain them (unless of coarse you have a very low demand for these elements then you can just continue to use them).
What you have to beware of when it comes to the use of kalk is that it will only raise the cal and alk elements and no others. So if you do regular water changes with ASW you should be ok for elemental replenishment, if not then the adding of the elements will come into play sooner or later.
The other thing about most kalks is that they are food grade (such as the one doug mentions Mrs pickles) food grade products contain a varity of additional elements (metals and such) that can build up in your system. I am not sure if other companies offer them but I do know Warner marine makes thier products out of analytical grade components (just what u need and nothing more) which IMHO are the best way to go long term.

Mike
 

SlowBoat

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Has there been a study on the amounts of trace elements replenished by the use of a Calc. reactor or these 2 part additives? Better yet, a study that documents the uptake of trace elements in relation to the uptake of calcium? I am particularlly interested in the use of magnesium.

It seems that even if using a reactor or 2 part additives that are "ioncally" balanced there is still a potential of throwing something else out of whack in our closed systems.

David
 

mojoreef

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David with the use of a cal reactor it would depend on the media used. If it were a coral based product then it would release what the coral up takes. The 2 parts basically keep it balanced with all the elements and the coral would just take what it needed or wanted.
Magnesium does play a big role. Pretty much everything has magnesium bound to it. that and thier is between 3 to 4 times as much of it in NSW then calcium. How it plays a role in our water chemistry is that it keep the carbonate in check. If we get to much alkalinity in our water the carbonate ion will percipatate the calcium ion and thus not make it available for the coral to uptake it. The magnesium ion in the water will coat the carbonate ion and basically keep it in check so that the above doesnt happen.

Mike
 

Arkman

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this is definitely unscientific, and not well disciplined, but its what I've been doing for a bout a year and all of my corals are doing well with regular new head growth on my candy cane and torch corals. I dose with seachem calcium about 5x/week and when my pH starts to have more than a .2-.3 swing during the day (pinpoint) I add alk buffer.

I doubt this would work well with more delicate corals, but I do have a pocillapora, montipora digitata and capricornus a number of softies and the LPS mentioned above - some shrooms and polyps and a gorgonian (photosynthetic) all growing well...

I'd like to work out something automatic though...been thinking about kalk as I have a drip bag...

I've tried Iodine dosing, and not dosing. It may make some difference, but I once accidentally dosed Iodine instead of calcium (same brand, different color bottles) - which was an overdose and it severely damaged my xenia. They are recovering now, but I’m not sure they like iodine - they seemed the most sensitive.

Anyone want to offer up theirs SIMPLE and INEXPENSIVE automation solution??
 

mojoreef

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Arkman I think kalk is the simplest form of doseing and if you do regular water changes you should be fine for the smaller trace elements.
Iodine is to scary for me

Mike
 

Doug1

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Agreed on Iodines toxicity, its a powerful antiseptic, converts to other forms, not all readable with a hobbiest test kit and lastly their is no agreed on need nor proper dosage:(
 

Parafly

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Calcium overdosing

My calcium reactor got a bit too ehthusiastic and my CA levels went slightly over 500ppm, at which point all the LPS and SPS corals were seriously stressed--several beyond hope of recovery. If 400-420 is the ideal range, at what point does the CA level start being problematic?
 

mojoreef

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Well once you get around the 500 mark calcium will start to percipatate out of the water, snow storm. Personally I try to never let it get over 480, this has always been by benchmark.

Mike
 

mattseattle

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calcium / alk update

ok i've been using the WM products for a little more than a week....almost 2 weeks now. My alk is still hard to maintain. I had it stable for about 3 days but then the other day it went down. Here are my latest readings for the past few days. I have not done a water change during this time.

10/17 - alk is 9.0 / 3.2 and calcium is 420, ph is 8.2
10/18 - alk is 8.6 / 3.09 and calcium is 420, ph is 8.2
10/20 - alk is 8.6 / 3.09 and calcium is 430, ph is 8.2
10/22 - alk is 8.0 / 2.86 and calcium is 400, ph is 8.2

i've been adding 30ml of parts A & B in the morning before the lights come on. That is double the dose that is recommended per the instructions on the bottle. My tank is 55 gallon with 20 gallon sump. So I've estimated my total water volume is about 60 - 65 gallons taking in account my DSB, live rock, etc.

any thoughts?
 

mojoreef

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Matt your levels are not that bad. remember your tank is going to be using these elements if they are available. Are you noticing any differences in the tank?? as in more corraline growth. A flux over a weeks period of 1 point in alk and 20 points in cal is not to shabby.I would say they are good enough to begin to wheen off the additive and get the kalk going. Why dont you cut the dose back and begin to drip once again. This will tell us if the ammount of the kalk drip is going to take up the additive deduct..

Mike
 

mattseattle

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ok for some reason i was trying to keep the levels from flucating so much or at least what i considered quite a bit. i thought if the reading was 3.2 one night then it should be equal to or around that number. so going from 3.09 to 2.86 in alk during a 2 day span while adding the double dosage of the additive isn't a 'out of the normal' thing? i guess to me it's hard to believe my tank is using that much alk in a 2 day span. but also i guess i don't know everything that is consuming alk in my tank. i have 3 frags in my tank that are small and coralline algae. i didn't think with that small of a bioload that my tank would use much alk and calc. i hope this makes sense to everything.

i really don't have an idea yet on how much calcium and alk. that corals can consume in a tank.

so i should start dosing kalk? 2 teaspoons per gallon of water? let it drip over night as replacement water? should all replacement water i add into the sump be kalk water?

questions questions, i know! :)
 

mojoreef

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its a bit of a hit matt but nothing that is going to harm anything. Usually in new tanks this happens as the corraline is on the rise. it also has alot to do with acid additions to the tank, from feeding, rotting and so on.
Go ahead on the kalk for replacement water and lets see what the impact is. So tommorrow cut your additive ammount in half and start the kalk. Keep an eye on the parameters and post them tommorrow


Mike
 

mattseattle

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my calcium kit ran out today so i'm going to have to order another one. ugh! :) today my alk was 3.2 and calcium was 400. i went back to the original dose of the WM additive. i'll start to drip kalk tonight and we'll go from there.

i am definitely having a coralline explosion. i have dime size coralline growing on the back tank wall. powerheads and return tube are almost covered in it now. the bare spots on the live rock are starting to grow as well. i guess coralline takes more alk and calc out of the water than i can imagine they use.

also mike when you get time i would like to use your magnesium test kit just to take a test to see where it's at. you mentioned at Blue Sierra that I could borrow it if I would like a reading. i am also planning a water change this week. it's been about 3 weeks since i've done one.
 

mattseattle

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today my alk continued to drop so i bought a magnesium test kit. the reading was 1080 and everything i've read said to maintain magnesium between 1250 and 1350. with a 1080 should i add magnesium? i would think yes especially with the alk problems i've had recently.

thoughts?
 
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