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Effects of Low Alk on a System

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Snowsrfr View Drop Down
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    Posted: November 24 2010 at 11:01pm
What kind of effects would one expect to see, or has been observed in your tank with low alkalinity but proper Ca levels?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SGH360 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2010 at 11:07pm
PH drop will be the first thing you will see, it will be in constant level
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tcfab Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2010 at 11:08pm
How low is low?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Ryan Thompson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2010 at 11:14pm
Certain corals don't open up as large for me and polyp extension isn't as great.

But how low is low like Tyler said?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Snowsrfr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2010 at 11:17pm
Before I say how low is low, I wanted to get peoples unbiased opinions on what they have seen, or what I should be seeing. So far SGH360 may be on to something because I've had issues with my pH reading low on my APEX.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Snowsrfr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2010 at 11:26pm
Well, since I just got confirmation that the written instructions were incorrect while my card showed the proper ratio of drops to dkH from the Elos mod over on RC, my dkH is 5-6 when the whole time I thought it to be 10-11.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jwoo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 12:38am
5-6 is low but not super duper bad, pretty easy to turn that around. I only keep mine at 8-9 so really your only 2-3 below what I usually keep it at. I do notice if it drops below 8 that my corals look real crappy. No poly extensions. My zoos don't open up. Acans get really small looking.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bstuver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 12:48am
My alk was really low on my tank and I am thinking that may have been what started my poor starfish getting necrosis:( He however is on the mend. But I agree certain corals won't open up and they just don't look as good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Snowsrfr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 1:29am
That's the odd thing. All corals look good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SGH360 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 3:04am
Is probably because the change was slow that corals have little impact on the change. This can probably start causing damage in the long run, i would raise it as soon as possible before they start to retract
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 8:13am
I agree with everyone that has posted.
If you think about it, almost every organism in the tank uses Calcium in some form, from SPS skeleton, fish bones, worm tubes, to Coralline Algae. Soft coral make sclerites, calcium slivers that give it it's structure. Snails need Alkalinity and Calcium to make shells. Crab, shrimp and "pods" need to make their exoskeletons. In fact, even all soft tissues have a Calcium or Calcium Carbonate component.

It's actually very nice to see the high level of understanding of the importance of Alkalinity, but...
It has been my observation that Calcium can do nothing without Alkalinity and vise-versa, Alkalinity can do nothing without Calcium. If either one is below an acceptable level, growth is inhibited. If left unaddressed, death will eventually follow.

It is definitely a gradual and often unnoticable decline. This is the reason that Alk and Ca testing are as important as Temperature and Salinity.

My learning experience is this area caused the end of my 18 month no-water-change experiment. I could not keep Hermits alive. I thought the large Six-line Wrasse was killing them so I got rid of that fish, but the Hermits still died. I wish I could remember how or who it was that pointed me to Alkalinity and Calcium testing, because that changed everything. The coral (soft only) which I had not noticed until the end, had stopped growing, thankfully began to recover. My best guess is that Alk or Ca or both had been below range for a year. It took 6 months for the tank to return to good health.

Just a note regarding a comment posted above. Natural seawater is said to have an Alkalinity of 8 dKH. I can't remember what the Calcium number is, maybe 350 ppm. Even after all the effort we put into them, our little aquariums still fall short of the natural ocean in so many known and unknown ways. If we keep Alk and Ca at the level of natural seawater, we are limiting our aquariums to a much narrower range of conditions. When, not if, Alk, Ca or some other still unknown parameter goes awry, our tank is placed at great risk. I find it very sensible to keep Alk and Ca higher than natural seawater. We have found that Alk of about 10 and Ca of 425 (midrange) are actually healthy. Perhaps this is because such favorable Alk and Ca compensate for, or at least help the aquarium pass safely through, other negative conditions.Smile


Edited by Mark Peterson - November 25 2010 at 8:18am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ryan Thompson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 10:11am
Mark,

Nsw has a dkh of 7 and a calcium of around 420. I believe magnesium is right around 1350.

Randy Holmes-Farley wrote an article talking about how organisms can uptake more calcium when the alkalinity is around 7. He stated that an acceptable range for our tanks is between 7-11dkh. I know you know the range as you have mentioned it many times. Just thought it was good to share.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Snowsrfr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 10:17am
Added an extra shot of alk last night after all this and I already see a difference in my pH. Normally has an overnight low of around 7.8'ish (RDP refugium), but last night stayed just above 8.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2010 at 10:28pm
I've read Alk of natural seawater listed as 8 dKH.
I disagree with Randy.
When I see comments like jwoo/Justin's I know that maintaining the Alk at a higher level is more helpful. Add to that what I said above about a tank with Alk at an artificially higher level being better able to weather adverse conditions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Scott Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 26 2010 at 12:02pm
I had low alkalinity for a long time in my tank.  My calcium was always high because of the salt I used.  What I saw was poor to no growth in all but my xenia corals.  Acans/Zoo's/SPS all stayed alive and healthy, but never grew.  I then started testing for it and dosing it in topoff and things are starting to grow.  I could probably still get more growth if I spot fed things, but eh, I guess I'm a bit lazy there. Wink

Also I had almost zero coralline until I controlled my alk.
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