Alkalinity Swings

Robert_Popa_918

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One of my nano reef tanks has been having issues with it’s alkalinity levels recently. The levels have recently dropped all the way down to 6.1 DKH, and my corals are not doing so well. Since I have only 2 coral frags in the system, I kinda want to stay away from dosing any elements. I’m still fairly new to the hobby and don’t have very much confidence in myself when it comes to dosing in a reef tank, despite all my research. Would doing 50% water changes weekly rather than 20% water changes, bring the levels back up?

-Thanks, Rob
 

MERKEY

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Some refers swear by dosing even small tanks. I understand your approach to non dosing. It all has to do with intake of your tank. If you cant normally sustain the levels through water changes and salt mixes than dosing might be your only option. I kept without dosing for 2 years until I wanted som corals and clams that my tank couldn't support without the proper levels being consistent.

Good luck on which ever way you choose!
 

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If you have been doing weekly 20% water changes then in my opinion you should not have an issue. Therefore I would be looking at the test kit /correct methodology or correct salt mixing.
I agree with this.

I rely on faithful water changes to maintain my levels, nothing more.

I suspect a testing error or defective/expired test kit.

Which test kit do you use?
Which salt mix do you use?
 

muzikalmatt

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What size tank is it? The thing about nanos is that due to the smaller water volume changes can happen fast, even in a lower demand system. Do you have a lot of coralline algae growing? I noticed my alk consumption went up considerably when coralline started growing heavily in my nuvo fusion 40. I've since started dosing 2-part by hand and the tank is a lot happier for it.

Regarding increasing your water change size to 50%, you want to be careful that the parameters between your tank and fresh saltwater aren't too far off from each other. You can shock the system (fish and corals) by changing that much water with parameters that are significantly different. I assume you're matching temperature and salinity but your fresh saltwater has elevated alkalinity to deal with the consumption? For example: I wouldn't recommend doing a 50% water change if your tank's current alkalinity level is 6.1 and the alkalinity of the new saltwater is 9 or above. I think that would be a bit of a shock to the tank. You could try doing more frequent smaller water changes instead of one large one if the alk levels are significantly different.

Generally the rule of thumb is you don't want to change alkalinity by more than 1 dKH in a day. You can use this Effect of Water Change Calculator to see how much of an effect your water changes are having on your system based on your tank's water volume, current levels and saltwater mix levels. You'll need to do some conversions to get from dKH to ppm but there's a conversion calculator on that same website. This should help you dial in how often you need to do water changes based on your tank's consumption.

Beyond the water changes though, you shouldn't be too hesitant to look at dosing. It's really not that difficult, especially 2-part. I bought the BRS 2-part package and have been dosing by hand for several months now and it's extremely simple if you use their reef calculator. And if you're dosing by hand instead of using a dosing pump it's nearly impossible to overdose and keeps things inexpensive and rather simple.

Hope this helps! Best of luck to you!
 

Bubbythebull

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If you have been doing weekly 20% water changes then in my opinion you should not have an issue. Therefore I would be looking at the test kit /correct methodology or correct salt mixing.

Yeppers!!! Weekly 20% wcs is enough to keep levels stable in most setups...get new kits !! I use salifert...if you level is still a bit off...then use kalk in you top off
 

BeejReef

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agree 6.1 dkh is very low. My neighbor ran a sps grow out tank w full colonies, went on vaca and had his calcium reactor quit on him. A week later, his dkh was still a touch higher than that. Unless there's a real issue with your source water, I'd strongly suspect a bad test, a bad batch of salt, or a suspect salinity reading.
 
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Robert_Popa_918

Robert_Popa_918

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What size tank is it? The thing about nanos is that due to the smaller water volume changes can happen fast, even in a lower demand system. Do you have a lot of coralline algae growing? I noticed my alk consumption went up considerably when coralline started growing heavily in my nuvo fusion 40. I've since started dosing 2-part by hand and the tank is a lot happier for it.

Regarding increasing your water change size to 50%, you want to be careful that the parameters between your tank and fresh saltwater aren't too far off from each other. You can shock the system (fish and corals) by changing that much water with parameters that are significantly different. I assume you're matching temperature and salinity but your fresh saltwater has elevated alkalinity to deal with the consumption? For example: I wouldn't recommend doing a 50% water change if your tank's current alkalinity level is 6.1 and the alkalinity of the new saltwater is 9 or above. I think that would be a bit of a shock to the tank. You could try doing more frequent smaller water changes instead of one large one if the alk levels are significantly different.

Generally the rule of thumb is you don't want to change alkalinity by more than 1 dKH in a day. You can use this Effect of Water Change Calculator to see how much of an effect your water changes are having on your system based on your tank's water volume, current levels and saltwater mix levels. You'll need to do some conversions to get from dKH to ppm but there's a conversion calculator on that same website. This should help you dial in how often you need to do water changes based on your tank's consumption.

Beyond the water changes though, you shouldn't be too hesitant to look at dosing. It's really not that difficult, especially 2-part. I bought the BRS 2-part package and have been dosing by hand for several months now and it's extremely simple if you use their reef calculator. And if you're dosing by hand instead of using a dosing pump it's nearly impossible to overdose and keeps things inexpensive and rather simple.

Hope this helps! Best of luck to you!
The tank that I’m having issues with is 13.5 gallons. I have been testing with saltifert’s tests. I get my water premixed at my LFS with Tropic Marine. I’m not sure what is going on with my tank currently, but I’m trying to fix things slowly over a period of time. I noticed that issues started occurring after I placed a trumpet coral frag, a couple weeks ago.
 
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Robert_Popa_918

Robert_Popa_918

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agree 6.1 dkh is very low. My neighbor ran a sps grow out tank w full colonies, went on vaca and had his calcium reactor quit on him. A week later, his dkh was still a touch higher than that. Unless there's a real issue with your source water, I'd strongly suspect a bad test, a bad batch of salt, or a suspect salinity reading.
I’m not sure if a bad reading was placed. I used salifert’s brand to test the water. What I do know is that the green trumpet coral frag is doing really bad. Nothing that I do seems to keep it from loosing its flesh. Maybe part of the issue is that I’m having trouble when it comes to where I should place it, but I definitely believe alkalinity is the big issue here.
 
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Robert_Popa_918

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Yeppers!!! Weekly 20% wcs is enough to keep levels stable in most setups...get new kits !! I use salifert...if you level is still a bit off...then use kalk in you top off
I use saltifert’s test kits as well. I have been taught that weekly 20% water changes is enough. There is definitely an issue with my alkalinity though, since my only LPS coral, a green trumpet coral, is doing really poorly. I’m not even sure if this coral will make it through. The heads of the coral are still mostly green but everything else on the coral is now a skeleton. I’m kinda panicking at this point. Not sure what to do, to revive this coral?
 
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I use saltifert’s test kits as well. I have been taught that weekly 20% water changes is enough. There is definitely an issue with my alkalinity though, since my only LPS coral, a green trumpet coral, is doing really poorly. I’m not even sure if this coral will make it through. The heads of the coral are still mostly green but everything else on the coral is now a skeleton. I’m kinda panicking at this point. Not sure what to do, to revive this coral?
Take some pics of that coral and post it up, along with your current parameters, in the tank emergency section. It'll get a lot more eyes there. You may well be correct about it being an alkalinity issue, but it could be any number of things from lighting to disease.
 
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Robert_Popa_918

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Take some pics of that coral and post it up, along with your current parameters, in the tank emergency section. It'll get a lot more eyes there. You may well be correct about it being an alkalinity issue, but it could be any number of things from lighting to disease.
I definitely will try that. Thank you for the advice!
 

muzikalmatt

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Having read your last three posts I think I may know the issue with your alkalinity and water change approach.

You say that you get your water from your LFS and they use Tropic Marin. Is it Tropic Marin or Tropic Marin Pro? That could make a big difference as Tropic Marin Pro mixes at ~7 dKH and Tropic Marin regular mixes at ~9 dKH. If you're only doing a 20% water change with 7 dKH fresh saltwater, that is probably not enough to keep your alkalinity up where it needs to be (depending on your tank's consumption rate).

For example: You say your tank is currently at 6.1 dKH. If you do a roughly 20% water change (3 gallons) with fresh saltwater that is at 7 dKH that is only going to raise your tank's alkalinity to about 6.3 dKH. You can test this with the calculator I linked you in my earlier post here.

See below for my test run I did in the calculator using your tank's info and this scenario. (FYI: 109 ppm = 6.1 dKH and 125 ppm = 7.0 dKH) So if your tank is consuming more than 0.2 dKH in a week (between water changes) you're not going to keep up with the demand and over time the alkalinity is going to keep dropping.

alk.JPG


However, if your LFS is using the regular Tropic Marin salt mix, then you probably have other issues going, be it a high alkalinity consumption rate (I doubt it) or an error in testing or salt mix (more likely). Regardless, I highly recommend you test the alkalinity of the source water you're getting from your LFS to confirm.

Salifert test kits are great but with the titration method tests (alk, calc, mag) you really need to be careful. Make sure you follow the instructions exactly and pay close attention to the color change. It's very easy to make a mistake and get a false reading. I highly recommend getting a Hanna checker for alkalinity testing as it takes the guesswork out of it and is much easier and faster to do. It's a bit of high front end cost but it's totally worth it imo and the reagent refills are pretty cheap ($9).

If you confirm that the water from your LFS is at roughly 7 dKH, I would recommend a large water change (around 10 gallons which is roughly 75%) and that will get your alkalinity back up to around 6.7 dKH and shouldn't hurt any fish (or the coral) in your tank. Honestly though, it would be much easier to use an alkalinity additive (like BRS Soda Ash) to get the alkalinity back up where it needs to be. My tank was at 6.9 last night and 30 minutes after dosing ~20 mL of BRS Soda Ash it was back up to 7.8.

Regarding the health of you trumpet coral, I wouldn't worry about placement until you get your parameters (especially alk) in line. It's not going to be happy regardless of where you place it if your alkalinity is that low and moving it constantly is just going to stress it out even more. Also, when you move it you need to give a few days to a week for it to acclimate to the new location to see if it likes that spot or not.

Don't stress about it too much though. Trumpet corals are pretty resilient and if you get your tank's parameters back in line it can likely recover. Even if it doesn't, just think of this as a learning experience and realize you're likely going to lose some livestock in this hobby. Nobody is perfect and you obviously are doing your best to figure it out and do what's right for the coral.

I hope this information helps you out, man! Don't hesitate to ask any follow up questions. That's what's so great about these forums, everyone's here to help out and we're all rooting for each other!
 
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Robert_Popa_918

Robert_Popa_918

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Having read your last three posts I think I may know the issue with your alkalinity and water change approach.

You say that you get your water from your LFS and they use Tropic Marin. Is it Tropic Marin or Tropic Marin Pro? That could make a big difference as Tropic Marin Pro mixes at ~7 dKH and Tropic Marin regular mixes at ~9 dKH. If you're only doing a 20% water change with 7 dKH fresh saltwater, that is probably not enough to keep your alkalinity up where it needs to be (depending on your tank's consumption rate).

For example: You say your tank is currently at 6.1 dKH. If you do a roughly 20% water change (3 gallons) with fresh saltwater that is at 7 dKH that is only going to raise your tank's alkalinity to about 6.3 dKH. You can test this with the calculator I linked you in my earlier post here.

See below for my test run I did in the calculator using your tank's info and this scenario. (FYI: 109 ppm = 6.1 dKH and 125 ppm = 7.0 dKH) So if your tank is consuming more than 0.2 dKH in a week (between water changes) you're not going to keep up with the demand and over time the alkalinity is going to keep dropping.

alk.JPG


However, if your LFS is using the regular Tropic Marin salt mix, then you probably have other issues going, be it a high alkalinity consumption rate (I doubt it) or an error in testing or salt mix (more likely). Regardless, I highly recommend you test the alkalinity of the source water you're getting from your LFS to confirm.

Salifert test kits are great but with the titration method tests (alk, calc, mag) you really need to be careful. Make sure you follow the instructions exactly and pay close attention to the color change. It's very easy to make a mistake and get a false reading. I highly recommend getting a Hanna checker for alkalinity testing as it takes the guesswork out of it and is much easier and faster to do. It's a bit of high front end cost but it's totally worth it imo and the reagent refills are pretty cheap ($9).

If you confirm that the water from your LFS is at roughly 7 dKH, I would recommend a large water change (around 10 gallons which is roughly 75%) and that will get your alkalinity back up to around 6.7 dKH and shouldn't hurt any fish (or the coral) in your tank. Honestly though, it would be much easier to use an alkalinity additive (like BRS Soda Ash) to get the alkalinity back up where it needs to be. My tank was at 6.9 last night and 30 minutes after dosing ~20 mL of BRS Soda Ash it was back up to 7.8.

Regarding the health of you trumpet coral, I wouldn't worry about placement until you get your parameters (especially alk) in line. It's not going to be happy regardless of where you place it if your alkalinity is that low and moving it constantly is just going to stress it out even more. Also, when you move it you need to give a few days to a week for it to acclimate to the new location to see if it likes that spot or not.

Don't stress about it too much though. Trumpet corals are pretty resilient and if you get your tank's parameters back in line it can likely recover. Even if it doesn't, just think of this as a learning experience and realize you're likely going to lose some livestock in this hobby. Nobody is perfect and you obviously are doing your best to figure it out and do what's right for the coral.

I hope this information helps you out, man! Don't hesitate to ask any follow up questions. That's what's so great about these forums, everyone's here to help out and we're all rooting for each other!
Thanks a lot man! You don’t even know how much you have helped me out! I have no clue about which type of Tropic Marin the store uses. Honestly man, I’m not even 100% sure if he uses that salt brand, I just saw a bucket of Tropic Marin salt, at their mixing station, and put 2 and 2 together. I will definitely ask the next time I visit. I think I’ll do a water change of about 4 gallons today and we will go from there. I kinda want to refrain from dosing elements, I’m still kind of new to this hobby and don’t have enough of confidence in myself to dose. I heard that it’s really easy to overdose a tank.
 

BeejReef

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Having read your last three posts I think I may know the issue with your alkalinity and water change approach.

You say that you get your water from your LFS and they use Tropic Marin. Is it Tropic Marin or Tropic Marin Pro? That could make a big difference as Tropic Marin Pro mixes at ~7 dKH and Tropic Marin regular mixes at ~9 dKH. If you're only doing a 20% water change with 7 dKH fresh saltwater, that is probably not enough to keep your alkalinity up where it needs to be (depending on your tank's consumption rate).

For example: You say your tank is currently at 6.1 dKH. If you do a roughly 20% water change (3 gallons) with fresh saltwater that is at 7 dKH that is only going to raise your tank's alkalinity to about 6.3 dKH. You can test this with the calculator I linked you in my earlier post here.

See below for my test run I did in the calculator using your tank's info and this scenario. (FYI: 109 ppm = 6.1 dKH and 125 ppm = 7.0 dKH) So if your tank is consuming more than 0.2 dKH in a week (between water changes) you're not going to keep up with the demand and over time the alkalinity is going to keep dropping.

alk.JPG


However, if your LFS is using the regular Tropic Marin salt mix, then you probably have other issues going, be it a high alkalinity consumption rate (I doubt it) or an error in testing or salt mix (more likely). Regardless, I highly recommend you test the alkalinity of the source water you're getting from your LFS to confirm.

Salifert test kits are great but with the titration method tests (alk, calc, mag) you really need to be careful. Make sure you follow the instructions exactly and pay close attention to the color change. It's very easy to make a mistake and get a false reading. I highly recommend getting a Hanna checker for alkalinity testing as it takes the guesswork out of it and is much easier and faster to do. It's a bit of high front end cost but it's totally worth it imo and the reagent refills are pretty cheap ($9).

If you confirm that the water from your LFS is at roughly 7 dKH, I would recommend a large water change (around 10 gallons which is roughly 75%) and that will get your alkalinity back up to around 6.7 dKH and shouldn't hurt any fish (or the coral) in your tank. Honestly though, it would be much easier to use an alkalinity additive (like BRS Soda Ash) to get the alkalinity back up where it needs to be. My tank was at 6.9 last night and 30 minutes after dosing ~20 mL of BRS Soda Ash it was back up to 7.8.

Regarding the health of you trumpet coral, I wouldn't worry about placement until you get your parameters (especially alk) in line. It's not going to be happy regardless of where you place it if your alkalinity is that low and moving it constantly is just going to stress it out even more. Also, when you move it you need to give a few days to a week for it to acclimate to the new location to see if it likes that spot or not.

Don't stress about it too much though. Trumpet corals are pretty resilient and if you get your tank's parameters back in line it can likely recover. Even if it doesn't, just think of this as a learning experience and realize you're likely going to lose some livestock in this hobby. Nobody is perfect and you obviously are doing your best to figure it out and do what's right for the coral.

I hope this information helps you out, man! Don't hesitate to ask any follow up questions. That's what's so great about these forums, everyone's here to help out and we're all rooting for each other!
That's a really incredible response ^^
Above and beyond!

What's just as important as the brand the LFS uses is how well they're mixing it and how accurate the salinity is. If they're being a little cheap, or a little careless, that could be why your numbers are a little low and why they're not coming up with water changes.

If you have the kits, test your calcium and magnesium as well, as well as your salinity. If calcium is in the mid 300's and mag in the 1100's or 1200's, everything needs a boost and it's not just an alkalinity issue. I noticed you said "one of my nano reefs?" You have more than one tank? How is the other one doing? Might not be a water issue if that one is running well.
 

muzikalmatt

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Glad to help out @Robert_Popa_918 and I hope things work out for you! Thanks for the kudos @BeejReef! I don't think I initially intended to be that long-winded with my response but I kept thinking of other things that might be helpful. I definitely agree on checking the other parameters. When I was still getting water from my LFS I never really checked it, but once I did I realized everything was elevated and the salinity was up at 1.027. Always best to be sure!
 
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Robert_Popa_918

Robert_Popa_918

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That's a really incredible response ^^
Above and beyond!

What's just as important as the brand the LFS uses is how well they're mixing it and how accurate the salinity is. If they're being a little cheap, or a little careless, that could be why your numbers are a little low and why they're not coming up with water changes.

If you have the kits, test your calcium and magnesium as well, as well as your salinity. If calcium is in the mid 300's and mag in the 1100's or 1200's, everything needs a boost and it's not just an alkalinity issue. I noticed you said "one of my nano reefs?" You have more than one tank? How is the other one doing? Might not be a water issue if that one is running well.
Yes I did say that I have multiple reefs. I have multiple larger reef tanks at other homes. At those systems I have no issues whatsoever. I have an RODI system in the other homes of some of the reef tanks, and I mix water there with Instant Ocean salt mix. I can’t afford purchasing a 3rd RODI system for this Nano tank. It might Be a better idea to bring my own mixed saltwater from another one of my systems?
 

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In a tank that small I would not do 50% water changes just to keep params in check. It would be much easier to just manually dose the tank when needed. The doses would be small and keep things inline rather simply.
 

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