Alkalinity decline without coral

Cheeze

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@Cheeze what's your pH? The pH boost will be temporary. If you dose it continuously you will get a continuous pH boost, but I dont recall how much of a boost. This is what I'm going to try next: daily dosing of a small amount of sodium carbonate. I have a Neptune DOS so might try dosing tiny amounts more frequently than daily. My pH hit 7.8 yesterday. Need to 2x check pH calibration and if in spec then I've got a problem I need to solve before I get corals. Also planning to run an air line to my attic to feed my skimmer.
Hi Keith! My pH is 8.2...all my other parameters which I've been consistently testing are normal and stable, just the Alk that I never really tested too much had dipped.
I'm going to be dosing baking soda, but manually a little at a time each day, thanks to the sound advice from Randy in a different thread I had posted.
 
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Cheeze

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ime, most of the time in newer tanks especially tanks without corals, the alk is precipitating straight into the sand. i had this happen in a fowlr tank that I started with dry sand. Turned the whole sand bed into large clumps of sand, started first underneath and around the rocks, then traveled out. The Fowlr tanks I started before that with "live sand" did not do that.
My tank is a newer tank, and I did use dry sand and rock. Not seeing any clumps yet thankfully, but now I'll keep an eye out. Did you do anything to resolve or fix your sand?
 
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keithIHS

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ime, most of the time in newer tanks especially tanks without corals, the alk is precipitating straight into the sand. i had this happen in a fowlr tank that I started with dry sand. Turned the whole sand bed into large clumps of sand, started first underneath and around the rocks, then traveled out. The Fowlr tanks I started before that with "live sand" did not do that.
But then shouldn't we see Ca drop? My Ca was 450 last Dec. 430 in Jan, 435 in Feb. I just measured it and its 425. So maybe dropping a little? I know Ca drops much more slowly than alk, but is 5 ppt Ca/month and 1 dKH/month drop in alk the right ratio for precipitation? I've done four 20% water changes since last November, 1st 2 w TM Pro, last 2 w HW Reefer.
 
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keithIHS

keithIHS

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@Cheeze pH 8.2! I wish! Sigh. I'd better calibrate my pH probe. You should too. pH is determined by alk and CO2, and it's unusual to have a pH of 8.2 with low alk unless you're getting fresh air to your tank.
 

Miller535

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But then shouldn't we see Ca drop? My Ca was 450 last Dec. 430 in Jan, 435 in Feb. I just measured it and its 425. So maybe dropping a little? I know Ca drops much more slowly than alk, but is 5 ppt Ca/month and 1 dKH/month drop in alk the right ratio for precipitation? I've done four 20% water changes since last November, 1st 2 w TM Pro, last 2 w HW Reefer.
I do not remember what the ratio is. @Randy Holmes-Farley in one of his articles gives an approximation of how much cal to alk in a ratio. But 5ppt Cal and 1 dkh for a whole month does not sound odd to me.

What I think happens with new tanks, especially ones started with dry sand. Early on precipitation happens until the sand reaches some kind of saturation, and then it stops. And people then assume it was from the tank maturing when it was just precipitating. Which I think is what Randy was saying earlier.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I do not remember what the ratio is. @Randy Holmes-Farley in one of his articles gives an approximation of how much cal to alk in a ratio. But 5ppt Cal and 1 dkh for a whole month does not sound odd to me.

What I think happens with new tanks, especially ones started with dry sand. Early on precipitation happens until the sand reaches some kind of saturation, and then it stops. And people then assume it was from the tank maturing when it was just precipitating. Which I think is what Randy was saying earlier.

That's surprising it is even that close over such an extended period and with hobby kits.

Exact ratio for pure calcium carbonate is 2.8 dKH for each 20 ppm of calcium, or 7.1 ppm calcium per 1 dKH.

In a real reef tank, magnesium gets into the crystal in place of some calcium, dropping it to 18-20 ppm calcium per 2.8 dKH, or 6.4 to 7.1 ppm Ca per 1 dKH.
 

Miller535

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That's surprising it is even that close over such an extended period and with hobby kits.

Exact ratio for pure calcium carbonate is 2.8 dKH for each 20 ppm of calcium, or 7.1 ppm calcium per 1 dKH.

In a real reef tank, magnesium gets into the crystal in place of some calcium, dropping it to 18-20 ppm calcium per 2.8 dKH, or 6.4 to 7.1 ppm Ca per 1 dKH.
7.1 ppm cal to 1 dkh alk, with him measuring with hobby level kits of 5ppm to 1 dkh sounds pretty dead on then.
 
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keithIHS

keithIHS

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That's surprising it is even that close over such an extended period and with hobby kits.

Exact ratio for pure calcium carbonate is 2.8 dKH for each 20 ppm of calcium, or 7.1 ppm calcium per 1 dKH.

In a real reef tank, magnesium gets into the crystal in place of some calcium, dropping it to 18-20 ppm calcium per 2.8 dKH, or 6.4 to 7.1 ppm Ca per 1 dKH.
Well OK! That's well within the margin of error for measurement! This is great, thanks for your help!
To clarify: likely sinks for alk without corals and macro inverts are:
Precipitation, especially in sand
Consumption by unseen inverts
Consumption by bacteria
Consumption by algae
Any others?
@Randy Holmes-Farley and @blasterman and @Miller535 if any of those are wrong or insignificant, please say so.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Well OK! That's well within the margin of error for measurement! This is great, thanks for your help!
To clarify: likely sinks for alk without corals and macro inverts are:
Precipitation, especially in sand
Consumption by unseen inverts
Consumption by bacteria
Consumption by algae
Any others?
@Randy Holmes-Farley and @blasterman and @Miller535 if any of those are wrong or insignificant, please say so.

Algae do not consume alkalinity or calcium, unless it is an unusual type that calcifies, such as halimeda.

Bacteria only consume alkalinity if they are processing ammonia into nitrate (ignoring sulfur denitrators; you'd know if you had one). If nitrate is stable at any level, this alk change is not significant because the consumption of the nitrate gives back exactly the alkalinity consumed making it.

Dosing nitrate adds alkalinity.
 
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keithIHS

keithIHS

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I happily stand corrected:)
Alk (and Ca) are precipitating into the sand.
To @Cheeze 's question, is the solution to clumping sand (and alk drop) to stir it periodically and get it live asap w bacteria, seeding w other live sand, sand-stirring critters, etc.?
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I happily stand corrected:)
Alk (and Ca) are precipitating into the sand.
To @Cheeze 's question, is the solution to clumping sand (and alk drop) to stir it periodically and get it live asap w bacteria, seeding w other live sand, sand-stirring critters, etc.?

Stirring it prevents hardening, but may not prevent precipitation.
Getting it coated with organics, bacteria, magnesium, and phosphate will slow or stop precipitation.
 

Miller535

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I happily stand corrected:)
Alk (and Ca) are precipitating into the sand.
To @Cheeze 's question, is the solution to clumping sand (and alk drop) to stir it periodically and get it live asap w bacteria, seeding w other live sand, sand-stirring critters, etc.?

When I had the clumping problem I would use a python and do weekly small water changes. The vacuuming of the python seemed to prevent it from clumping. And to Randy's point eventually organics probably covered the sand. Eventually I stopped regularly vacuuming the sand and the problem did not come back.
 
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keithIHS

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I vacuumed my sand during my 1st two water changes but then seeded my sand w sand from PacificEast Aquaculture. I didn't want to interfere w the growth of the critters so I didn't vacuum the 2nd two times. Maybe the thing to do is stir it gently to see if there's any clumping, break up any clumps, and not vacuum when changing water. What do you think? Any other way to encourage biodiversity in the sand?
 

Miller535

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I vacuumed my sand during my 1st two water changes but then seeded my sand w sand from PacificEast Aquaculture. I didn't want to interfere w the growth of the critters so I didn't vacuum the 2nd two times. Maybe the thing to do is stir it gently to see if there's any clumping, break up any clumps, and not vacuum when changing water. What do you think? Any other way to encourage biodiversity in the sand?
Manually stirring is fine too, does not have to be vacuumed, I just found that the easiest way for me.

There is a place online that sells critters specifically for sandbeds and keeping them stirred and for diversity. This is their website,


I have heard good things about them but I must add that I have never PERSONALLY bought anything from them.
 
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keithIHS

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Thanks, I'll check them out. I've bought from ReefCleaners and PacificEast, but always good to have more options. Thanks again.
 
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