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Can AWC be adequate for my situation so that I don't need to do 2-part?

JohnIsNewToReefKeeping

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Hello!

So I have a 75 gallon aquarium set up. It has a few soft coral and a few LPS atm. My goal for my tank is for it to be a soft coral dominated with a hand full of lps here and there tank.

I don't like the fact that If I want to start doing two part, that I will need to to do mandatory monitoring of the fish tank every week or every other week. As well as running the risk of dosing a fish tank with high concentrates of calcium and alk then having levels too high and killing everything in the tank due to my preference of not spending a lot of time monitoring the water.

So I was wondering whether having a AWC system would be enough for a soft coral dominated tank with lps here and there. What I find attractive with the AWC way is that there isn't a way of overdosing the tank in anyway shape or form besides from the beginning of mixing the saltwater. Then having the AWC change 1 gallon per day for a duration of 50 or 100 days then refilling the AWC system. I know the hobby is about having a challenge and what Im planning on doing is kind of cheating in a way since I do not want to put in the time to do bi-weekly water testing. So yeah what are your opinions of doing just AWC for a mixed soft and Lps tank.

(And if the AWC system wont be sufficient enough I think I'll just go to a 100% softy only tank since they take in minimal minerals/nutrients from the water where dosing a bit of all for reef every few months will be sufficient for them)

And yes I know about this article ( http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-10/rhf/index.php ) where they talk about how Awc are practically useless if the tank is a high demand tank. But i think it doesn't really apply since my tank wont have a high demand like a sps dominated tank.
 
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DancingWind

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Monitoring tank IS the core of reef-keeping.
And AWC will not let you get around it. At the very least you will have to monitor carefully Salinity in your tank. AWC + ATO will make your salinity drift - because no pumps are identical and no pumps will drift identically over time.
 

slayertx

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Awc means it's automated, not that it's done daily. YOU set when you want it done and how much...... So.....
Why not run a elevated salt and assuming your running a DOS make it were it runs a larger water change just 1 day a week. :cool:
 

DancingWind

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Awc means it's automated, not that it's done daily. YOU set when you want it done and how much...... So.....
Why not run a elevated salt and assuming your running a DOS make it were it runs a larger water change just 1 day a week. :cool:
My point was that AWC is not a fool-proof-set-it-and-forget-it method. Whether it is daily or once a month. You will still want to confirm that the amount of water in and out match. The only care free AWC that I imagine is if you have a huge volume of SW (ie ocean) you could tap and run it constantly of 1 pump.
And if you run it once a week... how is that different from water change? if you are keeping lps WC don't eliminate testing. IMHO you are going the wrong way about this. If you hate testing that much get a trident/kh director/ghl ION/Reefbot.
Personally I do mine every Saturday morning (hana alk + po4, salifert No3, AF Ca and Mg + a salinity check) and it takes me around 30 min. Seriously I walk my dogs longer daily.
 

Braves Fan

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A softy tank with a few LPS corals in it ,, shouldn't require you to add ,,

" high concentrates of calcium and alk then having levels too high and killing everything in the tank due to my preference of not spending a lot of time monitoring the water "

Spend a bit of time testing your tank ,, get a base line for what the tank is using ,, then set up a doser ,, then test your tank once a week to verify you have your dosing dialed in ,,, after your are confident that you do ,, you may be able to stretch your testing out a bit further ,, to the two week mark ,, I can run a Calcium & Alk test on my tank in 15 min or less ,, both of them ,,

Seriously though ,, if your not willing to spend 15 min once a week testing your tanks water ,, or even once every two weeks ,, maybe having a tank is something you shouldn't do ,, you kinda have to ask yourself why are you wanting to have a tank in the first place ,,

I am not blasting you here ,, with what you have stated in your post ,, it would make any of us wonder this question ,, testing is an inherent part of the hobby ,, kinda like having grass in your yard ,,, the down side is you have to cut it ,,
 

mefisto

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Monitoring and testing is what you will have to do anyway.
Be it daily, weekly or monthly is up your personal preferences.

Personally I think 1 on 75 gallon will not keep up with the consumption of Ca/KH in a softies dominated tank, let alone if a few LPS are involved.
But to your question: Yes, it might be worth a shot. Most difficult will be keeping the salinity at point.
But I guess that monitoring the salinity will be the least effort. Especially when you learn in the first few weeks that is stays stable, you can downscale to weekly, maybe even monthly.

What might be working better, or at least be an effective way of supplementing Ca/KH at low but steady levels is the usage of Kalkwasser. The downside is that Kalkwasser is most effective at night time to keep ph from dropping too hard. So using a dosingpump programmed to dose at intervals at nighttime is a better choice than using an ATO which dosing irregular when.
You might set the Kalkwasserdosing at 80% of your average evaporation rate to be at the safe site with the water level. Your ATO (or manual daily) will do the rest.

Nevertheless, I really think that using a dosingpump is by far the most easy way.
As mentioned before, monitoring is the key.
After the initial regulation of dosing Ca and KH you can downscale testing to once or twice a month. Shifts in concentration can be corrected in small steps so that there will not be no giant fluctuations.
 

BeejReef

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Hmmm...

If ultra low maintenance is what you're after, there are probably other methods less complex than AWC. Salinity is THE parameter, and AWC has to be monitored to assure it. It's a logical impulse though, bc, yeah... u can't really overdose on seawater.

Striving for a low-risk, ultra stable system is a very worthwhile goal. You're approach is def worth looking into. If you had asked the question "I just want to keep mainly softies. Will a good water change schedule be ok?" You would have gotten some "yes" responses.

Practically speaking, a new tank is going to require a lot of hands on, even if you somehow nailed your alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium and they were never once an issue. Also, you'll never know if you've achieved rock-solid stability unless you're testing pretty regularly.

If you run it for 18 months and your parameters are a rock, you've earned the right to stretch out your testing intervals IMHO. Just no one wants to see a theory tried on a new tank with live animals.
 
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JohnIsNewToReefKeeping

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alright cool thank you all for your input's really appreciate it, thought there was a way for someone to pretty much do minimal effort on a tank and have a somewhat successful reef tank.

I guess what I'll do is figure out how to dose my aquarium with two part. And get a hanna tester so testing water will be easier/faster.

Since two part does increase sality would that be offset by the fact that an ato will off set my salinity? @DancingWind
 
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BeejReef

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Research is def required. I'm not qualified to recommend it, but you might consider that new tropic marin carbo-calcium. It's purportedly a calcium/alkalinity all in one bottle and doesn't affect salinity. Magnesium is the sort of thing you can look at once or twice a month in a low-demand set up.

I just switched to it from dosing kalkwasser. Going well so far, but when I say "just switched" I mean like one week ago. It's cheap though. The big container is on pace to last me five months easy. Also appears that my 1g reservoir will last 2-3 months. They have more expensive versions that do trace elements and magnesium as well, but that's much more pricey.
 

DancingWind

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alright cool thank you all for your input's really appreciate it, thought there was a way for someone to pretty much do minimal effort on a tank and have a somewhat successful reef tank.

I guess what I'll do is figure out how to dose my aquarium with two part. And get a hanna tester so testing water will be easier/faster.

Since two part does increase sality would that be offset by the fact that an ato will off set my salinity? @DancingWind
No ATO compensates for the evaporating water. Water evaporates, salt stays, salinity inreases. That is ATO must be RODI. Your skimmer is constantly lowering your salinity (the toilet water is not 1.026, more like 1.015).
Since you are planning a softy tank + a few lps you will probably have to dose very little 2 part. And you will have to test whatever you do :)
In theory you could simply close your eyes and do weekly 10-20% and that sort of system will be just fine. But a reef tank is a love baby :) you need to look after it at least until it grows up a bit. If you do not test it you will not know what is happening or how to fix it.
Also ... 2 part (basic 2 part is popular in US) screws with ionic balance aka proportion of various elements that make up "sea water". That is because 2 part means its only dissolved alk and dissolved Ca. Thing is pure Ca and alk are not naturally liquid, they have to bound with other elements like Na and CL to form salts that are soluble in water. Now as alk and ca is absorbed by corals those leftover salt components stay and accumulate in tank water (remember what I said about ATO and salt not going anywhere?) as they are single components they skew the proportions, you will still need water changes to bring it back normal balance.
If you want less water changes go full Balling method - so called 3-4 part. It's result is after alk and ca absorbed is normal sea salt. Softy + lps tank does not have to worry much about ionic disbalance because you won't be using a lot of 2 part. but those more complex balign like methods also replenish micro and trace elements. that is useful.
You change water because of 2 reasons:
a) to control nutrients (no3 and po4)
b) to replenish minerals: macro(alk, ca, mg), minor and trace elements.
Balling method should cover you for minerals. That leaves nutirents.
Triton method (proprietary flavour on balling method but with extra stuff for macro algaes) is based around no water changes as it uses also a refugium to export nutrients

My personal experience: WC are much more annoying than testing. I watch tv and wait for breakfast as I do my tests.
And I have 2 dedicated barrels for RODI and new SW + a pump and hose to pump it to the tank - so it's not a big deal, but still more annoying.
That is why I run triton method with a ~20% fuge (500L DT - 100L fuge). my biggest problem I cannot get po4 above 0 with just feeding. And then my ICP tests keep returning with results that apparently my fuge is stripping all the metals from the tank water.
No water changes for the last 3 months (tank is 7 months old) and my water is fine.
So if you are looking for a low maintenance system may I recommend triton method. I run it and all my reef keeping consists of:
a) daily: smothering tank with food. iodine and metals supplement drops.
b) weakly: 5 water tests (6 with salinity), removing some excess macro, skimmer cup cleaning, and scrubbing algae from glass - takes around an hour
c) monthly ICP test, and adjustments based on results (so far I only fixed nice to have things by adding things. Adding stuff is quick and easy - removing stuff is the problem - need multiple water changes hopefully will not have to deal with it)
d) every few months cleanout pumps.

You can run AWCs but YOU must test and check the system. It has potential to crash your system if your awc and ato system is off (it's usually much harder to crash softy+lps system by small volume dosing). At the very least you must observe and test for the first few months - once you get a feel for your tank rhythm you can relax. But not having good habits is usually how tanks go bad.

Sorry if we sound patronising we just want you to succeed. And your initial ideas on AWC + no testing set of our spidey-senses :) that is not the way to success - not for a newbie.
 
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DancingWind

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Research is def required. I'm not qualified to recommend it, but you might consider that new tropic marin carbo-calcium. It's purportedly a calcium/alkalinity all in one bottle and doesn't affect salinity. Magnesium is the sort of thing you can look at once or twice a month in a low-demand set up.

I just switched to it from dosing kalkwasser. Going well so far, but when I say "just switched" I mean like one week ago. It's cheap though. The big container is on pace to last me five months easy. Also appears that my 1g reservoir will last 2-3 months. They have more expensive versions that do trace elements and magnesium as well, but that's much more pricey.
Another great way to dose, beware - carbo means alk and ca is in organic molecule - food for bacteria. As bacteria eat it they release Alk and Ca - it works over time which is nice. It's a form of carbo dosing so beware of bacteria blooms in young tank and of stripping of no3 and po4.
tropic marin also has an advanced version of CarboCa called All-for-Reef. It's a full carbo-calcium based baling method in 1 bottle. It's biggest problem that it is one of the most expensive dosing methods - so in bottled form it is usually only used in small tanks. But you can make DIY AllForReef solution from bulk (and some dry) components that Tropic Marin sells and while mixing 1L of DIY AFR is only slightly cheaper as I understand making 5L or bigger batches reduce the price substantially and makes it in line with other common balling methods.
 
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JohnIsNewToReefKeeping

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I really don't understand why a lot of people are saying that if I run a AWC that I it will be very important to monitor the salinity. My thought process is say my tank is at 1.025 then i'll make sure that the barrel holding the saltwater is at 1.026 so that for what ever reason some salt gets lost it should stay around 1.025. And obviously after mixing the salt, making sure that salinity is where I want it to be.

Also for the AWC I plan on buying this
( https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/awc-...Jx3NxWzEbZ3k8gjjzLQ6i2Y3oz7--CIEaAmrREALw_wcB )

Which has a ATO system built into it so there wont be a problem where a water change is happening and the ato mistakes it as a lot of evaporation.

plus could I use a higher grade of salt where the calcium& alk is slightly more elevated So that calc would sit around 420 and alk around 11.

But honestly I think the best way for me to come to a conclusion is to have my reef tank fully stocked with all the lps corals I want and then see if the consumption of alk and calcium is greater than or less than of having a awc system could replace then see whether or not to continue with dosing.
 
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JohnIsNewToReefKeeping

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And my tank has been up for over 7th months that already has thriving zoanthids and fish, im not starting off with a new tank
 
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JohnIsNewToReefKeeping

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Another great way to dose, beware - carbo means alk and ca is in organic molecule - food for bacteria. As bacteria eat it they release Alk and Ca - it works over time which is nice. It's a form of carbo dosing so beware of bacteria blooms in young tank and of stripping of no3 and po4.
tropic marin also has an advanced version of CarboCa called All-for-Reef. It's a full carbo-calcium based baling method in 1 bottle. It's biggest problem that it is one of the most expensive dosing methods - so in bottled form it is usually only used in small tanks. But you can make DIY AllForReef solution from bulk (and some dry) components that Tropic Marin sells and while mixing 1L of DIY AFR is only slightly cheaper as I understand making 5L or bigger batches reduce the price substantially and makes it in line with other common balling methods.
I have a Uv sterilizer hooked up to the reef tank so i think if there were to be any major bacteria blooms ill turn that bad boy on and have my tank cleared in a few days.
 

dankaqua

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Back in the 90's I had a 75 with softies and a couple LPS. I used an ATO for water top off which was on a timer.

The timer only allowed the ATO to run at night, and I used an air pump (yes, an air pump) to push the kalkwasser in my ATO reservoir into the sump.

It was a pretty simple system and the tank did well (I moved overseas a couple years later so you could say it was only "short term success")...

Anyway, as others have pointed out, testing is part of having a reef tank. We are lucky to have things like Hanna testers and ReefBots and Apex Trident!

Granted, it's a pricey hobby. But using the simple Hanna and Salifert test kits is not really that time consuming...

Some people hate testing and tracking numbers. Some love it.

...might be better to accept testing&tracking at least for the first year or two...

...because what will really cause you grief is having your tank go south and not knowing what the problem is....

In summary, here's what I'd do:
  • water changes manually
  • test with Hanna and Salifert
  • ATO with Kalkwasser
  • monitoring by observation
  • baseline ICP test (could be an RO plus tank water test with ATI)
And be thankful that we have R2R and all the technical wizardry to help us maintain our captive ecosystems. ;Couchpotato
 

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