High Alk , should I switch salts?

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Razorp

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I have been an aquarist of sorts for over 10 years now, but didn't dive into the salt side until just over a year ago. Like most people i started small with a bicube16 and probably didnt do enough research here before starting.

Long story short, I started with Coral Pro salt mix and never once texted anything other than nitrates, ammonia, and salinity for the most part. I have still not kept any super demanding corals in that tank, so when things looked sad i would just do a water change, and aside from still battling dinos in that tank, everything has gone pretty well.

Now to get to the point, the tank in question is my 36 gallon bowfront office tank. Its been up for roughly 5 months now and is getting pretty full of goodies, I know its early, but i decided to try some sps frags. Until this point i had never really tested some of the things that need to be tested to keep more demanding corals.

The frags are all still alive after 3 weeks in the tank (except a montipora that bleached almost overnight). The thing i am noticing is tip burn on my other sps frags. 3 of the remaining 5 have decent polyp extension, but the tips are starting to bleach it appears. My understanding, is that this can happen with high KH. But this is confusing to me, because i was under the understanding that higher KH was good for growth.

Im running coral pro salt mixed to 1.025 salinity. This salt mixes in the higher range of KH. So why would this supposedly be a salt designed for mixed reefs with the purpose of having the higher numbers, if it will damage the coral.

My other numbers are as follows and have been pretty consistent since after the edition of the sps (whish is when I really started testing these things every other day. )

Rodi water only, I have a handheld tds meter that I check my rodi stored water with once a week.

(weekly 5gal water changes)

temp 77-78 consistent
salinity 1.025
ammonia 0 (api)
nitrate 10 (api)
phosphate .00-.01 (hanna ultra low)

alk 11-11.8 dkh (red sea )
ph 8.0-8.3


My main question is, would it be wise to switch to a different salt mix? If so which mix would you recommend, and how would you go about making that switch?

tank.jpg tank2.jpg tank3.jpg tank4.jpg tank5.jpg tank6.jpg
 
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HB AL

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I use the Red Sea salt and it's a great salt. If you use the pro and keep your alk that high you need to make sure your nutrients are higher. With your alk in the 11's if you have very low nutrients your corals will suffer as you describe and can lead to other detrimental issues. I would stay with the same salt brand just switch to the blue bucket as it mixes at a much lower alk and slowly drop the alk level in your dt to around 8 and see how things go after a month or so.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Burnt tips is not caused by high alk.

It is apparently caused by high alk and insufficient nutrients. The leading hypothesis is the high alk makes the skeleton grow faster than the tissue can keep up at low N and/or P.

it's certainly fine to avoid the problem by lowering the alkalinity, and equally fine to avoid the problem by maintaining higher levels of N and P (in your case, P is low, if accurate).
 

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From my understanding, alkalinity is a little bit of a balancing act. 11 - 11.8 is not unworkable, but at that level your corals become more sensitive to nutrient levels.

That said, I'll give you the same advice that was given to me when I had a similar situation with my SPS corals: Your nutrients look a little low. Specifically, your phosphates. Nitrate is in a fine range (though I would suggest getting a better test kit than API to actually measure them... either the Red Sea Algae Management kit or the Nyos nitrate kit), but your phosphates have basically bottomed out, and your tank shows it. Both with the very sterile look of your rocks, and with the fact that you're battling dinos.

So I'll give you the same ultimate advice that was given to me: Feed more, test your phosphates more often, and get a better nitrate test kit. If you want to keep SPS long-term, I'd also pick up a Calcium and Magnesium test.

Ideally you want your levels to be something like this:
Salinity: 1.024 - 10.26 (1.026 is the preferred level for most reefkeepers)
Nitrate: 2-10 PPM
Phosphate: 0.04 - 0.08 PPM (too high is toxic, too low is starvation. If you get above 0.2 PPM, take action to lower it)
Calcium : 420-600 PPM (most people prefer in the 420-500 range)
Alkalinity: 7.5 - 12.5 (shoot for stability over a particular number. Generally speaking, lower levels give slower but more consistent growth, higher levels give faster growth but greater sensitivity to nutrients).
Magnesium: 1250 - 1350 PPM
PH: 8.1-8.3. You can go up to about 8.5 with good results, though maintaining that level can be difficult. You should try to avoid dipping below 8.0.

If you want to switch salts, Instant Ocean is the standby, though it tends to be lower in essential elements and you may need to dose to keep them up. The Red Sea blue bucket is also a good one (I think it's just called Red Sea aquarium salt). Tropic Marin Pro is another lower-alkalinity salt and what I personally use, but it's both more expensive and harder to come by than most of the others.

And listen to Randy, he really knows what he's talking about. If you're faced with two conflicting opinions and one of them is Randy's, give him the benefit of the doubt.
 
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Razorp

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From my understanding, alkalinity is a little bit of a balancing act. 11 - 11.8 is not unworkable, but at that level your corals become more sensitive to nutrient levels.

That said, I'll give you the same advice that was given to me when I had a similar situation with my SPS corals: Your nutrients look a little low. Specifically, your phosphates. Nitrate is in a fine range (though I would suggest getting a better test kit than API to actually measure them... either the Red Sea Algae Management kit or the Nyos nitrate kit), but your phosphates have basically bottomed out, and your tank shows it. Both with the very sterile look of your rocks, and with the fact that you're battling dinos.

So I'll give you the same ultimate advice that was given to me: Feed more, test your phosphates more often, and get a better nitrate test kit. If you want to keep SPS long-term, I'd also pick up a Calcium and Magnesium test.

Ideally you want your levels to be something like this:
Salinity: 1.024 - 10.26 (1.026 is the preferred level for most reefkeepers)
Nitrate: 2-10 PPM
Phosphate: 0.04 - 0.08 PPM (too high is toxic, too low is starvation. If you get above 0.2 PPM, take action to lower it)
Calcium : 420-600 PPM (most people prefer in the 420-500 range)
Alkalinity: 7.5 - 12.5 (shoot for stability over a particular number. Generally speaking, lower levels give slower but more consistent growth, higher levels give faster growth but greater sensitivity to nutrients).
Magnesium: 1250 - 1350 PPM
PH: 8.1-8.3. You can go up to about 8.5 with good results, though maintaining that level can be difficult. You should try to avoid dipping below 8.0.

If you want to switch salts, Instant Ocean is the standby, though it tends to be lower in essential elements and you may need to dose to keep them up. The Red Sea blue bucket is also a good one (I think it's just called Red Sea aquarium salt). Tropic Marin Pro is another lower-alkalinity salt and what I personally use, but it's both more expensive and harder to come by than most of the others.

And listen to Randy, he really knows what he's talking about. If you're faced with two conflicting opinions and one of them is Randy's, give him the benefit of the doubt.
Im actually not battling dinos in this tank. They are in my little biocube at home. I do have some gha in this tank at the office and some red ciano. But not on the rocks, its on some frag plugs and the glass in the back only.
 
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Burnt tips is not caused by high alk.

It is apparently caused by high alk and insufficient nutrients. The leading hypothesis is the high alk makes the skeleton grow faster than the tissue can keep up at low N and/or P.

it's certainly fine to avoid the problem by lowering the alkalinity, and equally fine to avoid the problem by maintaining higher levels of N and P (in your case, P is low, if accurate).
I have neophos and neonitrate on hand. I will try raising phosphates slowly first! Thank you for the reply!
 
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From my understanding, alkalinity is a little bit of a balancing act. 11 - 11.8 is not unworkable, but at that level your corals become more sensitive to nutrient levels.

That said, I'll give you the same advice that was given to me when I had a similar situation with my SPS corals: Your nutrients look a little low. Specifically, your phosphates. Nitrate is in a fine range (though I would suggest getting a better test kit than API to actually measure them... either the Red Sea Algae Management kit or the Nyos nitrate kit), but your phosphates have basically bottomed out, and your tank shows it. Both with the very sterile look of your rocks, and with the fact that you're battling dinos.

So I'll give you the same ultimate advice that was given to me: Feed more, test your phosphates more often, and get a better nitrate test kit. If you want to keep SPS long-term, I'd also pick up a Calcium and Magnesium test.

Ideally you want your levels to be something like this:
Salinity: 1.024 - 10.26 (1.026 is the preferred level for most reefkeepers)
Nitrate: 2-10 PPM
Phosphate: 0.04 - 0.08 PPM (too high is toxic, too low is starvation. If you get above 0.2 PPM, take action to lower it)
Calcium : 420-600 PPM (most people prefer in the 420-500 range)
Alkalinity: 7.5 - 12.5 (shoot for stability over a particular number. Generally speaking, lower levels give slower but more consistent growth, higher levels give faster growth but greater sensitivity to nutrients).
Magnesium: 1250 - 1350 PPM
PH: 8.1-8.3. You can go up to about 8.5 with good results, though maintaining that level can be difficult. You should try to avoid dipping below 8.0.

If you want to switch salts, Instant Ocean is the standby, though it tends to be lower in essential elements and you may need to dose to keep them up. The Red Sea blue bucket is also a good one (I think it's just called Red Sea aquarium salt). Tropic Marin Pro is another lower-alkalinity salt and what I personally use, but it's both more expensive and harder to come by than most of the others.

And listen to Randy, he really knows what he's talking about. If you're faced with two conflicting opinions and one of them is Randy's, give him the benefit of the doubt.
I thought about going to blue bucket. If i were to go that route, what's the best procedure for switching? Just start doing the water changes with the new salt mix would be my gut feeling. However in the salt water realm my gut feeling is generally not the best practice ;)
 

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I thought about going to blue bucket. If i were to go that route, what's the best procedure for switching? Just start doing the water changes with the new salt mix would be my gut feeling. However in the salt water realm my gut feeling is generally not the best practice ;)

Well, that's a good instinct to have - some things that seem to make sense are in fact not very good ideas in saltwater. =) But in this case your gut feeling is right. Most salts are close enough to each other that you're not going to hurt anything by switching, especially if you're just sticking with your usual water change schedule. The only time I might be concerned about switching salts is if I was doing something like a 75% water change... and even then, I don't know that there's enough difference to matter in most cases.
 
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Well, that's a good instinct to have - some things that seem to make sense are in fact not very good ideas in saltwater. =) But in this case your gut feeling is right. Most salts are close enough to each other that you're not going to hurt anything by switching, especially if you're just sticking with your usual water change schedule. The only time I might be concerned about switching salts is if I was doing something like a 75% water change... and even then, I don't know that there's enough difference to matter in most cases.
Great info! Thank you for the replies!
 

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If it’s any help, I run your exact same parameters for mor3 than 4 years now, with the exception of phosphate, I have to dose daily to keep it up to 0.06ppm, any lower and I lose polyp extension and colour drab out. I’d stay where you are and increase phosphate but not exceed .1ppm.

Give that two weeks.



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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I have neophos and neonitrate on hand. I will try raising phosphates slowly first! Thank you for the reply!

Those solutions are pretty weak. Folks find it takes a while to bring values up. Adding 0.03 ppm phosphate will not give you 0.03 ppm phosphate once it has a chance to bind to rocks and sand, and be taken up by organisms. So expect it to take a lot more than you might think.
 
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Those solutions are pretty weak. Folks find it takes a while to bring values up. Adding 0.03 ppm phosphate will not give you 0.03 ppm phosphate once it has a chance to bind to rocks and sand, and be taken up by organisms. So expect it to take a lot more than you might think.
good info thank you!
 

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Those solutions are pretty weak. Folks find it takes a while to bring values up. Adding 0.03 ppm phosphate will not give you 0.03 ppm phosphate once it has a chance to bind to rocks and sand, and be taken up by organisms. So expect it to take a lot more than you might think.
Randy,
What would you suggest to push up the Phosphates in a tank that is low if these solutions are weak?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Randy,
What would you suggest to push up the Phosphates in a tank that is low if these solutions are weak?

Use a lot, feed more, or make your own solutions for a lot less from amazon using food grade sodium nitrate and sodium phosphate. :)
 
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My 2 cents, Also running a tank with Red Sea Coral Pro , keeping 11.8 dKH.

No burnt tips or RTN/STN , everything looks happy. I try to keep my No3 around 2.0 - 5.0 and have always Po4 between 0.046 -0.096 ( I feed and supplement a lot), You can see it in my thread if that brings any help.
Good luck!
 

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maybe I missed it, but are you dosing any ALK supplement? I use Reef Crystals which has high ALK as well but my tank stays around 6.5-7.0 dkh because it is being used up. Is your tank not naturally lowering it for you?
 

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Those solutions are pretty weak. Folks find it takes a while to bring values up. Adding 0.03 ppm phosphate will not give you 0.03 ppm phosphate once it has a chance to bind to rocks and sand, and be taken up by organisms. So expect it to take a lot more than you might think.
I understand that Brightwell has improved the concentration of Neophos recently.

Now, I can bump phosphate 0.02ppm in 180g system by adding 10mls, or at least, that’s what’s weeks of testing have shown me.

Looks like they matched Seachem Flouirsh in respect to concentration.

It not the cheapest way for sure.
 

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My 2 cents, Also running a tank with Red Sea Coral Pro , keeping 11.8 dKH.

No burnt tips or RTN/STN , everything looks happy. I try to keep my No3 around 2.0 - 5.0 and have always Po4 between 0.046 -0.096 ( I feed and supplement a lot), You can see it in my thread if that brings any help.
Good luck!
Love those numbers!
 

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Burnt tips is not caused by high alk.

It is apparently caused by high alk and insufficient nutrients. The leading hypothesis is the high alk makes the skeleton grow faster than the tissue can keep up at low N and/or P.

it's certainly fine to avoid the problem by lowering the alkalinity, and equally fine to avoid the problem by maintaining higher levels of N and P (in your case, P is low, if accurate).


I've been reading your articles and adhering to your advice for 15+ years now, thank you for your countless contributions to the hobby. Do you have a tank of your own anymore?
 
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PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 35 6.1%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 407 71.3%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 5 0.9%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 41 7.2%
  • PH (most)

    Votes: 60 10.5%
  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 51 8.9%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 12 2.1%
  • (least) Calcium

    Votes: 7 1.2%
  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 47 8.2%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 8 1.4%
  • (least) PH

    Votes: 27 4.7%
  • (least) Nitrate

    Votes: 11 1.9%
  • (least) Nitrite

    Votes: 167 29.2%
  • (least) Ammonia

    Votes: 229 40.1%
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