1 year in. Help me fix my water chemistry.

MeanGreenStompa

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Hello all,

I've got a 180 gal with no sump, water is usually changed 1 per week, about 25%. I tend to feed heavily (4 frozen cubes am, 4 pm) to accommodate my picky eater (CBB) and my bottom dwelling fish. I have 3 FX 6 filters that are purely used as circulation, with some sintered glass balls in them, no sponge, there is also an Icecap 4k gyre at one end of the tank.

I have recently started adding BRS kalkwasser to my ATO to raise what was a painfully low pH. I also added reef flux 2 weeks ago to get rid of bryopsis. There has been no water change to the tank for these two weeks, given the readings this am I am considering carrying one out today despite the reef flux instructions to leave the tank another week.

Here are my far from ideal readings and I'd ask for any help you can offer in getting the tank back on track. I am intending to put a display refugium onto this tank in the next couple of months, which I am hopeful will help with the phos/nitrates but given just how high it all is, I'm wanting to fix it asap.

Phosphate: 2.3
Nitrate: 40ppm
Cal: 490
pH: 8.2
Alk: 4.5 meq/l
Ammonia: 0
Mg: 1500
 
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highest_tides

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Off hand -

Less MG through water changes or let it come down naturally.
More Alk using baking soda/rodi mix.

I sit around:
1250mg ---> balance first
9.6 DKH ---> bring up second
450 cal
1.025 @ 77.5-78.5

I use all for reef and change 25% water every two week
 

Quietman

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So poster report Alk in Meq/L 4.5 is high...it's 12.6 dKH so lower the kalk a bit. Let it get consumed a bit.

The nitrates are fine (tad higher than most). Phosphates are a bit high...don't feed so much. It's surprising to most how little food is needed for fish. That and your water change schedule should show results soon (I may add a WC/day for couple days but not required).

As for pH...what's painfully low? Most reef tanks are going to run anywhere from 7.7 to 8.3 and some can have daily swings that exceed that. First thing I'd look at is your surface agitation - do you see actual ripples on surface - that's the primary gas interchange in our tanks. Then we can get into other causes, but additives for pH is never a long term solution.
 
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MeanGreenStompa

MeanGreenStompa

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Yes I am using the Seachem Alk test, it tests in meq/l, so yeah, pretty high I think. I guess swapping out the kalkwasser water in the ato for just regular rodi water should be my next step then?
 
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Quietman

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Yes I am using the Seachem Alk test, it tests in meq/l, so yeah, pretty high I think. I guess swapping out the kalkwasser water in the ato for just regular rodi water should be my next step then?
What was your Alk/Ca before you added the kalkwasser? If acceptable then yes you can remove it completely. Alk/Ca additions should be based only on levels of a Alk/Ca in your tank and the need to hit acceptable ranges. Really nothing to do with maintaining pH although I do grant you being aware that kalkwasser impacts pH when you do add may influence when you add (during night time low pH swings for instance).

Kalkwasser is fine product and if you need Alk/Ca it's a great way to dose...but want to keep parameters closer to 3 Meq/L (8.4 dKH).
 
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MeanGreenStompa

MeanGreenStompa

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Using that same seachem test, the Alk was low (can't remember the number) but what was alarming me and prompted the addition of the kalk was the pH, the test could not even show a reading so it was down below 7.8 which frankly frightened me.
1634483526813.png
 

Quietman

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pH isn't the most accurate with test strips or drops - and recommend getting a simple pH meter.

Low pH can be caused by a few things - inadequate gas mixing (surface agitation) and household CO2 concentrations being very common. I won't go into all the reasoning and tests and corrective actions as that's been done much better here.
 
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MeanGreenStompa

MeanGreenStompa

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The tank sits next to a large window that's kept open all the way through spring, summer and autumn. We are an open window household of two adults and a dog, so we're out for most of the week at work during the day or upstairs in bed at night, I don't suspect a co2 issue. I had been considering a second gyre on the other end of the tank to up the circulation though.

I had been considering a pH meter as soon as I went to adding Kalk via the ATO, is there a nice, reliable and simple probe you'd recommend?
 

Quietman

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The Pinpoint from American Marine is reasonably priced and works well (right up until you drop the meter in your sump - take it from me and don't do that. Really thought I had it nicely balanced on the edge of the sump so I could monitor over time easier). It uses an actual probe which I think makes a difference. The Milwaukee monitors are good too.

Never had good luck with any of the pens you see (even the top rated ones). The calibration just wouldn't stick and they drifted way too much for me. Some report much better results and they are the most inexpensive.

Now I would have gone with another Pinpoint or similar Milwaukee but by then I had an Apex which is also good but that's quite a bit of money. Some come with controllers for an extra $40-50 which if you're not going with a complete aquarium controller anytime soon might be worth it if you stay with kalkwasser as you'd want a high pH shut off to protect from overdosing.
 
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mdb_talon

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Stop dosing alk/calc(kalkwasser) in an attempt to hit a specific ph.

Either your PH test kits are wrong or you have way too little aeration in your tank are my best guesses(i am guessing probably both). Really need a calibrated probe for decent ph reading.
 

attiland

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Hello all,

I've got a 180 gal with no sump, water is usually changed 1 per week, about 25%. I tend to feed heavily (4 frozen cubes am, 4 pm) to accommodate my picky eater (CBB) and my bottom dwelling fish. I have 3 FX 6 filters that are purely used as circulation, with some sintered glass balls in them, no sponge, there is also an Icecap 4k gyre at one end of the tank.

I have recently started adding BRS kalkwasser to my ATO to raise what was a painfully low pH. I also added reef flux 2 weeks ago to get rid of bryopsis. There has been no water change to the tank for these two weeks, given the readings this am I am considering carrying one out today despite the reef flux instructions to leave the tank another week.

Here are my far from ideal readings and I'd ask for any help you can offer in getting the tank back on track. I am intending to put a display refugium onto this tank in the next couple of months, which I am hopeful will help with the phos/nitrates but given just how high it all is, I'm wanting to fix it asap.

Phosphate: 2.3
Nitrate: 40ppm
Cal: 490
pH: 8.2
Alk: 4.5 meq/l
Ammonia: 0
Mg: 1500
But your phosphate is really high so is your nitrate. Your ca is higher end too any mg is too high any your ph is perfect.
I think you need to rethink your targets.
 

Quietman

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Can I ask what's your pH reading now? If at 4.5 meq/L I would think it would be above 8.0 even at higher CO2. If so, then all is reading ok and you might just need a pH meter that goes below 7.8. While not desirable for steady state and few hour dip below 7.8 isn't the end of the world and as you manage your Alk it should come up a bit.
 
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MeanGreenStompa

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Can I ask what's your pH reading now? If at 4.5 meq/L I would think it would be above 8.0 even at higher CO2. If so, then all is reading ok and you might just need a pH meter that goes below 7.8. While not desirable for steady state and few hour dip below 7.8 isn't the end of the world and as you manage your Alk it should come up a bit.
pH is now at 8.3, Alk still at 4.5 meq/l and Calcium at 490. So pH moved up a fraction in the 5 hours whilst the other two are unmoved.
 
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MeanGreenStompa

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But your phosphate is really high so is your nitrate. Your ca is higher end too any mg is too high any your ph is perfect.
I think you need to rethink your targets.
I know both phos and nitrate are too high, I know I feed to much atm and will be reducing that, also that I have just 2 weeks back dosed reef flux which killed all the bryopsis that was locking up these two and that I'd see them climb. So I am contemplating and will likely end up water changing today by 25% and I'm working towards a display refugium to combat it long term.

What do you mean by 'any mg is too high'? Magnesium is a fundamental building block element for coral and people dose it. Do you think it's harmful? This poll I found seems to indicate people are experiencing it, albeit at lower levels than mine, but still at levels over 1350.
1634490369523.png
 
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MeanGreenStompa

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Dosing Kalk via ATO is a bad idea... even BRS recommends against this practice now. You're dosing changes according to evaporation which can fluctuate a lot.
I'd been considering this. While that's true for pinpoint accuracy, BRS and co (and a lot of others) did recommend it for years and years. I'm wondering if Ryan and co's love of detailed micro-science is overcoming what is a basic and useful practice for folks like me wanting a nice mixed reef of easier corals with only a few easy sps rather than high end acros. Their principal concern seemed to be burning out the pumps, I weighed the idea of burning up a 25 dollar pump every year/two years vs setting up a dosing system and I'm honestly wondering if it's worth the extra hassle?
 

Quietman

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Yeah...if your evaporation rate is fairly constant kalkwasser in ATO will be just fine. A lot of very experienced reefers with good looking tanks do this with no issues. You do need to be aware though of the process and keep an eye for things changing but sometimes I think people get a bit too far in the weeds with potential small effects and expand those out to changing large scale practices. Can it impact, sure - does it change a daily/weekly routine? Unlikely for most.

So with 8.3 pH you likely have good CO2 levels and as you bring down Alk to 3.0 range everything should balance out nicely. Make sure you're aerating surface (minor as just pointing the return nozzle to cause ripples is all that's needed usually) and it could be test kit still.

Good luck!
 

mdb_talon

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I'd been considering this. While that's true for pinpoint accuracy, BRS and co (and a lot of others) did recommend it for years and years. I'm wondering if Ryan and co's love of detailed micro-science is overcoming what is a basic and useful practice for folks like me wanting a nice mixed reef of easier corals with only a few easy sps rather than high end acros. Their principal concern seemed to be burning out the pumps, I weighed the idea of burning up a 25 dollar pump every year/two years vs setting up a dosing system and I'm honestly wondering if it's worth the extra hassle?

How you dose is of minor concern compared to the fact you are dosing way too much in an attempt to regulate PH and causing issues with alk/calc as a result. At normal co2 levels with your alk you ph should be at the very high end of what you want.
 
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MeanGreenStompa

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Yeah...if your evaporation rate is fairly constant kalkwasser in ATO will be just fine. A lot of very experienced reefers with good looking tanks do this with no issues. You do need to be aware though of the process and keep an eye for things changing but sometimes I think people get a bit too far in the weeds with potential small effects and expand those out to changing large scale practices. Can it impact, sure - does it change a daily/weekly routine? Unlikely for most.

So with 8.3 pH you likely have good CO2 levels and as you bring down Alk to 3.0 range everything should balance out nicely. Make sure you're aerating surface (minor as just pointing the return nozzle to cause ripples is all that's needed usually) and it could be test kit still.

Good luck!
So I removed the kalkwasser dosed RO water from my top off reservoir and replaced with just regular RO, should that see the Alk down or should I chemically alter it somehow? (I'm leery of changing downward too fast after bringing these numbers up over the last few weeks).

And you hit the nail on the head of what I'm saying. I greatly enjoy Ryan and co and their science projects, but they do test to extremes that I'm not interested in (eg with things like par) which I applaud from a scientific perspective and appreciate them doing for those that want to keep their hobby to that level. For me, I want a great visual impact for the dining room with various shapes, sizes and colors of corals that my dinner guests can enjoy rather than win tank of the month from my peers in the reef keeping hobby. I kept freshwater for 35 years, bred discus and satanoperca daemon and lillith and all manner of african cichlids, both West and Rift, I know I'm a relative newbie to coral and it's certainly another level of chemistry, but I want to enjoy the tank rather than it become chasing numbers and targets that I just cannot achieve and end up becoming a frustrating chore instead of a labour of love.

So how would you bring that Alk down a bit?
 
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