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    Posted: January 20 2012 at 10:53am
I am not sure if this classifies as an emergency to everyone else, but I am concerned.
  I have a 265 Gallon display tank, 50 gallon sump and a 75 quarantine tank all plumbed together. I run a calcium reactor (which I have been using for 15 years) for my calcium and alkalinity supplementation. Long story short- my calcium runs 430-480, my alkalinity is generally around 9-10.5 dKH. About a month ago I noticed my PH dropping around 7.7-7.9 at night. While this may not be a concern, my PH almost never dips below 8.0 during the night. I eventually tested my water and my alkalinity was around 6.0. I verified this with a LFS test also. I began adding Alkalinity Buffer in liquid form using the Bionic 2 Part Solution (without the Calcium component). I continued with this for about two weeks. It has since then been about two weeks and my Alkalinity tested out around 5.4. 
   So..... Is there something else I could use that would be more efficient/effective? I believe someone referred to the use of Baking Soda? It may have been Mark?
   Will I continue to have to maintain this schedule?

Let the questions, which I hope to be followed by answers, begin.
   -Thank you, David.
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When i was researching calcium reactors, I've heard of this happening if a ca reactor is too small for the total water volume (not sure what your reactor is rated for.) In that case, topping off with kalk seems to be the common answer and results in other huge benefits and stability.

Unfortunately I have no firsthand experience with this issue, only what I've read ;)

Edited by BillyC - January 20 2012 at 11:05am
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I would just buy the powder for which seems strong. Its Bi Carbonate just like Baking Soda. I don't know much about baking soda but I heard from Billy that you are suppose to bake it before adding it to the tank. To be safe you might want to temporarily fix the problem by adding the Alk powder.  IF the Calcium reactor has worked in the past maybe you just need new media. How long has it been since you have been running it? I heard that every 4-6 months it needs to be replaced. I have some extra if you need it right away. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Trevor40 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 11:14am
Ive also read that Kalk is a good think to do with the Calcium reactor. How is your Mag testing?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 11:46am
Originally posted by BillyC BillyC wrote:

When i was researching calcium reactors, I've heard of this happening if a ca reactor is too small for the total water volume (not sure what your reactor is rated for.) In that case, topping off with kalk seems to be the common answer and results in other huge benefits and stability.

Unfortunately I have no firsthand experience with this issue, only what I've read ;)

While I am not 100% sure what size water volume my reactor is rated for, this reactor is off my 90G. I figured it would not keep up long term and I would eventually have to upgrade. However, if it can keep the Calcium levels up, shouldn't it be able to maintain Alkalinity also?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 11:51am
Originally posted by Trevor40 Trevor40 wrote:

I would just buy the powder for which seems strong. Its Bi Carbonate just like Baking Soda. I don't know much about baking soda but I heard from Billy that you are suppose to bake it before adding it to the tank. To be safe you might want to temporarily fix the problem by adding the Alk powder.  IF the Calcium reactor has worked in the past maybe you just need new media. How long has it been since you have been running it? I heard that every 4-6 months it needs to be replaced. I have some extra if you need it right away. 

The reactor has been up and running on this tank since inception (around six months ago). I usually replace the media once the two reactor chambers are about half full. The chambers are now less than half full. Maybe replacing the media will help. I still am curious as to why calcium levels test out fine but not Alkalinty? I am not sure if I have replacement media kicking around or not. I will check and replace if so.
My Mag levels tested out around 1400 a month ago (LFS testing). I have not tested since and do not have a Mag test kit.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 1:44pm
Emergency - Maybe
Big concern - Definitely Yes. Shocked Alk at 6 and then later at 5.4 even after adding Alkalinity means some action is needed. I'm sure the Mg is fine, but it never hurts to test and make sure.

Here is what I would do:
1st
I would ask myself if all the coral look okay? Are polyps extending normally? Have soft coral been acting different? Am I seeing an increase in deaths of any kind of inverts, especially snails, shrimp or crabs? Is Coralline Algae turning white?
This would tell me how much of an emergency this was.

2nd
Before finding that Alk was 6.0, When was the last time I tested Alk & Ca and what were the levels?
This would tell me if I needed to be more diligent at regularly testing Alk and Ca and the frequency of testing and making manual adjustments/adding Alk.

3rd
How much B-Ionic Alk part have I been adding and how often?
I probably wasn't adding enough to make up for the decrease in production by the Ca Reactor and the increased demand by the increasing growth of my awesomely beautiful and flourishing coral. Smile


Here it comes, here is my 2 cents Embarrassed
- pH follows Alkalinity. This is why I say that if the Alk is within range(8-14 dKH) and the surface water is churning, not to worry about pH. This is why I say that testing Alkalinity is more important than testing pH.
- Calcium Reactors cannot keep up with Alk usage by the aquarium organisms. Every system with a Ca Reactor that I know of, needs a top off of Alkalinity from time to time. This is why Trevor40 has heard that adding Kalkwasser at night in the topoff water is useful. Not necessary, but useful, but even then the time will come where an addition of Alk will be needed.


Edited by Mark Peterson - January 20 2012 at 1:51pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 2:43pm

Originally posted by Mark Peterson Mark Peterson wrote:


Emergency - Maybe
Big concern - Definitely Yes. Shocked Alk at 6 and then later at 5.4 even after adding Alkalinity means some action is needed. I'm sure the Mg is fine, but it never hurts to test and make sure.

Here is what I would do:
1st
I would ask myself if all the coral look okay? Are polyps extending normally? Have soft coral been acting different? Am I seeing an increase in deaths of any kind of inverts, especially snails, shrimp or crabs? Is Coralline Algae turning white?
This would tell me how much of an emergency this was.

2nd
Before finding that Alk was 6.0, When was the last time I tested Alk & Ca and what were the levels?
This would tell me if I needed to be more diligent at regularly testing Alk and Ca and the frequency of testing and making manual adjustments/adding Alk.

3rd
How much B-Ionic Alk part have I been adding and how often?
I probably wasn't adding enough to make up for the decrease in production by the Ca Reactor and the increased demand by the increasing growth of my awesomely beautiful and flourishing coral. Smile


Here it comes, here is my 2 cents Embarrassed
- pH follows Alkalinity. This is why I say that if the Alk is within range(8-14 dKH) and the surface water is churning, not to worry about pH. This is why I say that testing Alkalinity is more important than testing pH.
- Calcium Reactors cannot keep up with Alk usage by the aquarium organisms. Every system with a Ca Reactor that I know of, needs a top off of Alkalinity from time to time. This is why Trevor40 has heard that adding Kalkwasser at night in the topoff water is useful. Not necessary, but useful, but even then the time will come where an addition of Alk will be needed.




All coral looks good. Great polyp extension. Four emerald crabs growing ridiculously large. Hermit crabs have upgraded their shells. All death I have seen is some snails. I bought 60 snails months ago. The 40 asteria snails are all good but there are only five of the other snails left (maybe margarita's- large round black shells). I attributed their death to believing these are not the best aquarium snail.

I did notice my rock work looking more white over time. However, I attributed this to the upgrading lighting package. I went from two 175W MH's to three 250W MH's and latter cranked up the wattage to three 400W MH's with two 160W VHO's. As I looked at the back of the glass today, there is numerous dime sized coralline algae growing.

I went two weeks between testing. First test cal was 430, Alk was 6.4. I added 40 ml of liquid Alk for two straight weeks. Tested Alk again and it was around 7. Continued adding Alk for a few more days before getting slammed at work and forgot to keep up with Alk supplementation.

So what would be easier, more cost effective and best for my inhabitants. 
  Thanks so much for your help.



Edited by DLindquist - January 20 2012 at 4:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BobC63 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 2:47pm

Dave -

Unfortunately, whatever alk supplementation method you end up going with will be a "doing over and over" thing... there is no "set and forget" method (like a Ca reactor) for dosing alk...

I find that my tanks have required much more frequent dosing for alk than for Ca... I dose Ca maybe once every 2 weeks to keep the Ca between 420 - 480 ppm whereas to keep my alk above 8, I need to dose for alk pretty much once daily Confused
 
You can use baking soda alone, but the combination of 4 parts baking soda / 1 part washing soda is more effective, and helps avoid the pH drop you get when you add baking soda alone...
 
You might want to think about adding kalk instead of the B- Ionic... kalk will increase both alk and ph (and Ca ,too)
 
And  B- Ionic gets pretty expensive with the over 300g of water that you have.
 
 
 
 
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I am unsure how much help this post will be as I don't test my alkalinity in a way that will get you a real answer (I use a test strip)... but 

Kalkwasser is a very good way to manage this.  I use a continuous drip ATO run off a peristaltic pump and I deliver top off water as a Kalk/vinegar mix.  I make 7 gallons of RO water weekly in my ATO reservoir with 14 tsp of Kalk Paste and 3 tsp of vinegar.  There is some chemistry behind this (nothing super complex) but the vinegar assists in managing alkalinity through promoting a carbonate balance in the ATO reservoir with the Kalk paste.  I wish I had hard numbers I could share but I am kinda running a bit weak on my alkalinity testing as this is a new step up from a BioCube and I have been so busy building things I still use my test strips ... so I don't have a believable real number, but my alkalinity is much improved from the Biocube where I just relied upon weekly water changes.  

I am confident you would not be hurt by trying this, but be careful with your ATO set up, if its dumping larger volumes sporadically (like a float) you will want to look into the amount of Kalk Paste you use to avoid some bad problems with a massive dose of a concentrated Kalkwasser.  Also, just FYI.  Using Kalkwasser is a very well established method, the ONLY issue is that a failure of an ATO system with a pump that delivers large volumes quickly (if its Kalkwasser its delivering) can be a very bad thing so depending on what your doing equipment wise and how fail safe it is and how large the reservoir is... just think things through.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 4:08pm
Bob,
   I guess continual dosing is the nature of the beast. However, manual dosing is not something I enjoy. This was the reason I set up the Calcium reactor on my 90G 15 years ago. I've never had a problem with Alk or Ca since.... until now. As you stated, B-ionic is not feasible long term- and I don't want to manual dose! Past experience tells me a larger reactor should take care of Alk and Ca. Is this not the case?
   
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Cal reactor and dosing is what a lot of totm tanks do.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 4:48pm
Originally posted by Teknik777 Teknik777 wrote:

Cal reactor and dosing is what a lot of totm tanks do.


Haven't been there (totm). Don't want to do that (manual-dosing).

Edited by DLindquist - January 20 2012 at 7:35pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BobC63 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 4:55pm
Originally posted by DLindquist DLindquist wrote:

Bob,
   I guess continual dosing is the nature of the beast. However, manual dosing is not something I enjoy. This was the reason I set up the Calcium reactor on my 90G 15 years ago. I've never had a problem with Alk or Ca since.... until now. As you stated, B-ionic is not feasible long term- and I don't want to manual dose! Past experience tells me a larger reactor should take care of Alk and Ca. Is this not the case?
   
 
Yes, if you upsize your reactor that may be all you need. But you are talking triple the capacity of your curent reactor.
 
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Get in touch with Tyler (Elite) and have him build you a larger one that will hold more media for you.
I'm sure he can for a better price than others.
If it makes you feel any better, I have had to be dosing for the last week because my regulator went out on me and its back east being rebuilt.  My alk is low right now also.
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I run my big reactor , and all of my top off water is run thru kalk also.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 7:28pm
Originally posted by tileman tileman wrote:

Get in touch with Tyler (Elite) and have him build you a larger one that will hold more media for you.
I'm sure he can for a better price than others.
If it makes you feel any better, I have had to be dosing for the last week because my regulator went out on me and its back east being rebuilt.  My alk is low right now also.



Think my wife will go for the "but I saved money, Tyler built it?"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2012 at 7:33pm
Rufessor,
My top off water consists of a 30G drum of RO, gravity feed to my sump through a float valve. I would be interested in running Kalk or something similar through the top off.
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"set up the Calcium reactor on my 90G 15 years ago. I've never had a problem with Alk or Ca since.... until now."
I will venture a guess that you never had as much Alk/Ca demanding coral in your tank...until now.
That's a heck of a lot more light. Triple the light = triple the growth = triple the demand for Alk & Ca
Take an inventory of all the animals and algae in the tank that use Alk & Ca, from fish to worms and from Coral to Coralline Algae and you may discover that the demand is greater than ever before.

"Past experience tells me a larger reactor should take care of Alk and Ca."
I believe that is correct, but like we are saying, you will still need to top off the Alk from time to time with a manual dosage. Dripping Kalkwasser will help delay the need for that manual dosing.

Margarita snails are great but are a colder water animal, coming from Baja California rather than the tropical ocean, so they don't last as long, especially if the tank is typically closer to 80 degrees than to 70. I suggest them because they work a little differently than Astrea snails, so that the combination keeps algae under better control.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arthuriv Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 21 2012 at 4:07am
I drip Kalk (usually in the form of pickling lime) mixed with vinegar. I fill an Oceanic bucket with water put in 1/2cup kalk and 1.5cups of vinegar drop an old maxijet in to mix it for a few minutes with the lid sitting on top the bucket. I then unplug the pump and give it a few more minutes to settle and the water to be mostly cear a agian. Then I take an aqua lifter with airline tubing connected drop the suction line in the bucket (try to keep the line off the bottom) and run the other line to your sump. I have a micro valve from a sprinkler drip system connected so I can control the drip. The aqua lifter then just sits onto top the lid. It is best to have the lid covering the bucket as best as possible! I also have my aqua lifter plugged into the same time as my sump light. I use this setup to dose both my 210 and my 55 at the same time.
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