Alk dropping in 10g with 3x/week 1g WCs

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
Hi all,

As title states, I've noted dropping alkalinity in my 10g office tank recently, despite doing a 1g water change every M-W-F.

Specs:
Tank: IM Nuvo 10g AIO
Salt: HG mixing at 1.026sg/~7.3kDh/~500+Ca (upper range of Red Sea test) --> Baking Soda added to ~8.5kDh (Red Sea kit with dropper)
Rocks: Gulf live rock (TBS)
Sand: Gulf live sand (TBS)
Light: AI Prime 16HD running Saxby modified to AB+ (upper 60%s/low 70%s with 3DReef diffuser)
Filtration: Filter floss (changed Fridays, rinsed M-W) + ROX carbon/Purigen (monthly change) + PhosGuard (see below) in chamber 1 Intank Media Basket; Gulf rock rubble in chamber 2

Measurements:
Wedn measured Alk at ~7 --> 1g Water Change as usual
Friday (today) measured Alk at ~6-6.5 --> so I did a 2g Water Change

Ca seems to remain high at the upper range of the test kit
NO3 has been reading at ~10ppm, PO4 stubbornly reading at ~1ppm (continually adding/replacing PhosGuard till it starts coming down)

Inhabitants:
1x Crocea Clam
1x single head torch
1x splitting head hammer (not too happy lately)
1x single head octospawn (also not entirely happy)
1x Mint pavona
1x cephastraea-like hitchiker coral
1x cup coral hitchhiker
1x Zoa/Clove island
4x RFA
1x Rainbow microfavia
1x Brotycladia
1x Pom Pom gracilaria
1x Galaxaura
1x Pencil cap
1x large codium
1x Tailspot Blenny
1x Exquisitie Firefish
1x Nassarius vibex
~5x Nerites
~5x Astraeas
~20x dwarf ceriths
~7x Ceriths
~10x periwinkle snails
1x Spotted anemone crab
1x Green porcelain crab
1x Pom pom crab
1x Sexy shrimp
Lots of worms, tunicates, brittle stars, micro brittle stars, sponges, etc.

Feeding:
1x/day (M-T-W-Th-F): 250 microliter (uL = 1/4mL) phyto OR RUSalty Naturose + 250uL RUSalty Oyster Egg Feast + 250uL RUSalty Coral Ecstacy OR RUSalty Zu Feast + 250uL RUSalty Ova Feast + ~5-10 medium TDO pellets + ~10-20 small TDO pellets (I try to feed the nems and firefish medium TDO pellets and the blenny/firefish small pellets); Fridays = special chopped frozen krill treat for crabs/nems and 2 pellet feedings for the fish to hold them over the weekend.

Questions:
1. What could be causing the declining Alk? Crocea (~2 in) has been in the tank for about a month now (as well as torch) and well situated/open mantle all day long. Could the Crocea be consuming so much Alk?

2. What is the best way to deal with this in a 10g? I was planning on water changes to solve all of my water chem issues so that I wouldn't have to dose. I understand some of the strategies are: i) dose with something like 2-part or All-For-Reef either manually every day or with a doser; ii) add Kalwasser to ATO; iii) increase water changes, i.e. daily. I'm disappointed, but will do what's necessary to stabilize this tank.


Thanks for reading and for your advice!
 
Orphek OR3 reef aquarium LED lighting

polyppal

2500 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Feb 16, 2018
Messages
2,726
Reaction score
5,148
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Denver
How old is the tank? Are the corals noticeably growing? That’s a lot going on in a 10g, esp the clam. 38 snails is waaay too excessive. You’ll likely be battling phosphates continually and may want to consider a stronger approach to keep it stable like a gfo reactor or (tiny bit) LaCl dosing if your filtration allows for it…

that being said, I’d dose the alk portion of 2part to keep it stable if the other parameters are stable
 
Last edited:

Nano sapiens

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Apr 25, 2010
Messages
1,953
Reaction score
2,683
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Northern California
Yes, clams and LPS can surely use up a lot of Alk/Ca, but they won't show the obvious growth like a fast growing branching coral would (take a pic of your clam and then one in 6 months and you'll notice the extra bulk!).

You should be able to go without dosing for a bit longer if you were to use a higher Alk salt mix (IO or ReefCrystals come to mind). But with the animals that you currently have you'll need to dose pretty soon anyway.

I like simple and cheap, so old school saturated kalkwasser in my ATO is my method of Alk/Ca supplementation for my 12g.
 

trevorhiller

Active Member
Review score
+3 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Oct 22, 2021
Messages
393
Reaction score
257
Review score
+3 /0 /-0
Location
Williamsport
I'm new too, so take this advice for what it's worth. But I believe a lot of people get by with just water changes on a small tank like that, I'm sure you can too if you tweak your methods a bit. Two questions:

How many dKH is it dropping per week?
What are you using to test Alk?

+/- 1 dKH is acceptable over a week I believe. It might just be testing margin of error.

Personally, I wouldn't bother boosting the Alk w/baking soda in the fresh salt and would try increasing the water changes to 2 gallons x 3 per week until your parameters are under control. Then I would try doing a 2 gallon water change 1-2x per week and see what your parameters do.

I would also remove some of the clean up crew, that is a lot. If you still have hair algae, pull it out with your fingers for a bit until things are under control. When I had massive algae growth, my Alk was rapidly depleting. Once I got that under control, it was better and I was able to stop dosing All for Reef (I was dosing 5 mL/day on a Waterbox 15).

However, If you want to dose, All For Reef might work nice on your tank. Keep in mind it takes a few weeks to get dialed in. It's not going to rapidly stabilize your Alk and you won't be able to see an improvement in your low Alk for a bit. I don't think Kalk in that gravity ATO you have will work so great, however, Kalk in my ATO stabilized my previous nano tank perfectly so it does work with the right equipment.

The dosing strategy I used on a similar size tank was this:
STEP 1:1 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 2
STEP 2: 2 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 3
STEP 3: 3 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 4, etc....

Eventually your Alk will go higher than desired and you can dial it back in fractions of a mL. Stop changing doses once your Alk is stable.
 
Click to join now!
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
How old is the tank? Are the corals noticeably growing? That’s a lot going on in a 10g, esp the clam. 38 snails is waaay too excessive. You’ll likely be battling phosphates continually and may want to consider a stronger approach to keep it stable like a gfo reactor or (tiny bit) LaCl dosing if your filtration allows for it…

that being said, I’d dose the alk portion of 2part to keep it stable if the other parameters are stable

Headsmack! Forgot tank age.

Tank has been running with full gulf rock/sand setup since Jan 13. Gradually added corals, nems, and clam. Fish came a few weeks ago. Macro also gradually added.

PO4 looks like it will be a problem b/c I feed heavily for filter feeders (I don't even want the fan worms and tunicates to go hungry). Moght have to consider a reactor in the long run--question: what is the difference between a reactor and dumping a bunch of GFO or PhosGuard in the AIO chambers?
 

Nanojoe

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
281
Reaction score
530
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
New Jersey
Alk is being consumed by the corals and clam in your tank. Although they look small they are growing organisms with a demand for calcium carbonate. Altogether sucking up those parameters.

2 part would be your easiest of route and like above said cheaper than doing water changes.

Check your magnesium as well as it will help keep your alk and ca in check. 1350 - 1400 is a good range to be in. Typically you want your Mg to be 3x what your CA is.
 
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
I'm new too, so take this advice for what it's worth. But I believe a lot of people get by with just water changes on a small tank like that, I'm sure you can too if you tweak your methods a bit. Two questions:

How many dKH is it dropping per week?
What are you using to test Alk?

+/- 1 dKH is acceptable over a week I believe. It might just be testing margin of error.

Personally, I wouldn't bother boosting the Alk w/baking soda in the fresh salt and would try increasing the water changes to 2 gallons x 3 per week until your parameters are under control. Then I would try doing a 2 gallon water change 1-2x per week and see what your parameters do.

I would also remove some of the clean up crew, that is a lot. If you still have hair algae, pull it out with your fingers for a bit until things are under control. When I had massive algae growth, my Alk was rapidly depleting. Once I got that under control, it was better and I was able to stop dosing All for Reef (I was dosing 5 mL/day on a Waterbox 15).

However, If you want to dose, All For Reef might work nice on your tank. Keep in mind it takes a few weeks to get dialed in. It's not going to rapidly stabilize your Alk and you won't be able to see an improvement in your low Alk for a bit. I don't think Kalk in that gravity ATO you have will work so great, however, Kalk in my ATO stabilized my previous nano tank perfectly so it does work with the right equipment.

The dosing strategy I used on a similar size tank was this:
STEP 1:1 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 2
STEP 2: 2 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 3
STEP 3: 3 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 4, etc....

Eventually your Alk will go higher than desired and you can dial it back in fractions of a mL. Stop changing doses once your Alk is stable.

I think the shock was seeing it drop 0.5-1 in 2 days. I am a bit nervous about using my ATO for dosing. It works great until it doesn't (like all ATOs). Had a clog that slowed flow in the AIO over a vacation and the ATO dumped out (better that it was a bottle and not a 5g ATO jug). Would hate to spike Alk that way.

I am thinking All-For-Reef might be an OK way forward and might keep some of the other trace in line if the clam starts consuming a lot. Clam is my pride and joy--want to keep it healthy! I will follow your strategy to get it going.
 
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
Alk is being consumed by the corals and clam in your tank. Although they look small they are growing organisms with a demand for calcium carbonate. Altogether sucking up those parameters.

2 part would be your easiest of route and like above said cheaper than doing water changes.

Check your magnesium as well as it will help keep your alk and ca in check. 1350 - 1400 is a good range to be in. Typically you want your Mg to be 3x what your CA is.

I do have Red Sea Mg tests as well, but have been neglecting to test (once a month Mg) since I figured Ca and Alk were good trackers of how stable they are. And generally parameters haven't moved too much with my wayer changes, but I'm fully stocked now, and it looks like corals/clam are doing well, so maybe just didn't notice the consumption until now.

I'm considering All-For-Reef since I have 3 crabs and a shrimp too, so the extra iodine and other trace elements might help them, too. Bit more expensive, bit for 10g, I think 800g will stretch.
 

Nanojoe

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
281
Reaction score
530
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
New Jersey
I do have Red Sea Mg tests as well, but have been neglecting to test (once a month Mg) since I figured Ca and Alk were good trackers of how stable they are. And generally parameters haven't moved too much with my wayer changes, but I'm fully stocked now, and it looks like corals/clam are doing well, so maybe just didn't notice the consumption until now.

I'm considering All-For-Reef since I have 3 crabs and a shrimp too, so the extra iodine and other trace elements might help them, too. Bit more expensive, bit for 10g, I think 800g will stretch.
yeah Mg is one that gets overlooked often as it typically doesnt "swing" like the rest.

I've heard more positive of AFR than negative. In a 10g should be fairly affordable id say. I never used it so i couldnt put my 2 cents on it. I have considered it though. I have been doing Kalkwasser via doser the past few months.
 
REEFTIDE
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
I'm new too, so take this advice for what it's worth. But I believe a lot of people get by with just water changes on a small tank like that, I'm sure you can too if you tweak your methods a bit. Two questions:

How many dKH is it dropping per week?
What are you using to test Alk?

+/- 1 dKH is acceptable over a week I believe. It might just be testing margin of error.

Personally, I wouldn't bother boosting the Alk w/baking soda in the fresh salt and would try increasing the water changes to 2 gallons x 3 per week until your parameters are under control. Then I would try doing a 2 gallon water change 1-2x per week and see what your parameters do.

I would also remove some of the clean up crew, that is a lot. If you still have hair algae, pull it out with your fingers for a bit until things are under control. When I had massive algae growth, my Alk was rapidly depleting. Once I got that under control, it was better and I was able to stop dosing All for Reef (I was dosing 5 mL/day on a Waterbox 15).

However, If you want to dose, All For Reef might work nice on your tank. Keep in mind it takes a few weeks to get dialed in. It's not going to rapidly stabilize your Alk and you won't be able to see an improvement in your low Alk for a bit. I don't think Kalk in that gravity ATO you have will work so great, however, Kalk in my ATO stabilized my previous nano tank perfectly so it does work with the right equipment.

The dosing strategy I used on a similar size tank was this:
STEP 1:1 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 2
STEP 2: 2 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 3
STEP 3: 3 mL/day x 7 days, Alk still low? Proceed to step 4, etc....

Eventually your Alk will go higher than desired and you can dial it back in fractions of a mL. Stop changing doses once your Alk is stable.

I don't have GHA in this tank (knock on wood). The gulf rock and sand have been working their magic so far. So the PO4 must be excess or from rocks.

Re: baking soda, HG salt should be moxing at 9dKh, but this box is mixing at 7.3, so I'm just bringing it back to where it should be, and my tank previously was happy at the 8.5-9 range, hence the choice of salt.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
50,751
Reaction score
42,529
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
There's nothing unusual in a reef tank dropping 1-2 dKH per day, even with no hard corals, and water changes typically cannot keep up with that level of demand unless they are on the order of 20-50% daily.
 
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
There's nothing unusual in a reef tank dropping 1-2 dKH per day, even with no hard corals, and water changes typically cannot keep up with that level of demand unless they are on the order of 20-50% daily.
Thanks, Randy! I will continue with 2g water changes M-W-F and between if necessary while I get my dosing system set up (whatever that will be).
 
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
All-For-Reef just arrived today, and I'll bring it in tomorrow.

Effects of the frequent water changes I've observed (~1.5g daily):

1. NO3 down from 10-20ppm to 2-5ppm (say ~3.5ppm from Red Sea test). I need to be careful, because don't want this to bottom out.
2. PO4 is down from stubbornly high 1.0ppm to almost 0.5ppm (say ~6.5ppm from Salifert). Still far from my target of 0.1ppm.
3. Some corals have sprung back: hammer/octospawn were looking bad the past 2 weeks, and now they are puffed up; torch was getting better after looking lousy from a filter clog/ATO dump, now looking super happy... Clam seems happy... Gorgonian has pulled its polyps back out. Hoping that is the effect of better water conditions.
4. ALK is dropping even faster. Raised it from 7dKh yesterday with 1.5g WC, and today it is 6.5dKh being generous. Could this be effect of corals bouncing back?

Thanks everyone!
 
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
I measured my Alk/Ca/Mg today before doing a water change and adding AFR.

My levels were (Red Sea test)
Alk: 6
Ca: 480
Mg: extrapolated to 1640

Mg seems super high. I decided to only add 1mL of AFR instead of the recommended 2mL. How long does it usually take for the parameters to change and settle? Measure an hour later? 4hr? 24hr?

Given these numbers, would it make more sense to bring up Alk with just baking soda? I like the idea of AFR and all the trace elements it brings, but worried about the Mg and Ca (lesser extent) already being so high.

Thanks!

Ps. Will bring in my Salifert Mg kit on Monday to try and confirm the high levels.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
50,751
Reaction score
42,529
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
The magnesium may not be accurate.

What does "extrapolated" mean in this context?

All for reef should not generally be raising those levels, just keeping them steady. But sodium bicarbonate or carbonate dosing only seems a fine plan if you believe the numbers.
 
OP
JoJosReef

JoJosReef

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
852
Reaction score
949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orange County, CA
The magnesium may not be accurate.

What does "extrapolated" mean in this context?

All for reef should not generally be raising those levels, just keeping them steady. But sodium bicarbonate or carbonate dosing only seems a fine plan if you believe the numbers.

Thanks Randy. I tested today with my Salifert kit, as opposed to the Red Sea kit. Still tested in the 1600s, also by "extrapolation" (just kept adding the color changing agent above 1mL, which is the max on the kit table, then calculating the [ ] as if it were a simple linear function--I don't know if it is, but probably close).

Not yet sure why Alk is dropping so much while the other two are so high--will test a fresh 5gal jug of HG saltwater on Monday--it has been mixing at an atypical ~7.3dKh, and I've been adding 0.5-0.6g baking soda to bring it up closer to 9.

Any reason why Alk adjusted by baking soda would be consumed faster than normal?

Thanks!
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
50,751
Reaction score
42,529
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Thanks Randy. I tested today with my Salifert kit, as opposed to the Red Sea kit. Still tested in the 1600s, also by "extrapolation" (just kept adding the color changing agent above 1mL, which is the max on the kit table, then calculating the [ ] as if it were a simple linear function--I don't know if it is, but probably close).

OK, I would not call that extrapolation. It's just using an extra amount of titrant, which is fine.

There's no reason that alk added as baking soda would be used any faster than alk added in other ways, except organic forms like acetate or formate which need to be metabolized before the alk is available.

It might be used more slowly than alk added as carbonate or hydroxide since the latter two raise pH and higher pH increases demand.
 

How much of your saltwater reef tank is automated?

  • Nothing is automated

    Votes: 65 13.6%
  • 25% or so

    Votes: 149 31.2%
  • 50% or so

    Votes: 107 22.4%
  • 75% or so

    Votes: 104 21.8%
  • Close to 100%

    Votes: 49 10.3%
  • Totally Automated (we need proof)

    Votes: 3 0.6%
PremiumAquatics.com
Top