Macro Algae Refugium Issues with Alk and Calcium Please Advise

Russell Casey

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
101
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Hello All,
Been at this over a year and like to learn so I practically visit reef2reef daily. I have a question I haven't seen answered here.

I have for the last year had a 32 Gallon Refugium. It is a standalone and Macros such as Ulva, Chaeto, are growing well but I am not sure if this is a problem or not, thus I ask you for your guidance :0.

I dose nitrate, phosphate, iron, and all in one reef tropical (which is supposed to be a two part in one solution, a little expensive but I digress).

My nitrates are steady with daily dosing of 3ml of ESV Nitrate, at 3.
Phosphate with dosing is at 0.02, they were 0.01
Alk for the longest time was steady at about 7.5 but in the last month each week it has been falling although I am dosing.
Calcium is at about 400 it was at 420-460, but has been steady at 390-410 for the last six weeks (hanna checker).
I started dosing All in one reef and although I was dosing through a pump 12 times a day 10ml my alk keeps dropping.
My average alk is running now at 6.5 and to be honest I am still getting growth on the macro algae (this is a fishless system although Chaeto has slowed down).

I have no hair algae, etc, thankfully. So I upped my dose of All in One Tropic Marin to 12ml a day, and after a week my alk dropped another .01 to 6.4. (hanna checker ppm, did a salifert alk test to check and it was showing 6.2).

So the manufacturer rep I spoke to told me to do a dose of 15ml and my regular dose of 12ml. Not to exceed 30ml per day. They said do this for three days and it will make the alk will shoot up. I did this after three days basically doubling my dose the alk this morning is 6.5 (it moved up 0.1)

Any ideas what I should do? Is 6.5 Alk bad overall my understanding is I need to be 8 or above(I have no coral in the tank, there is some halimedia that is growing wonderfully)? Calcium is steady at 390-420 I don't do water changes as this is a macro only system. Magnesium is steady at 1250-1350 Red Sea Test Kit. I have read that perhaps increasing mg might help but like to get your thinking before I do something that will cause issues.

Should I try to up the dose some more or is there other limited factors. I have high intensity lighting on 16 hours a day and a blackout period of 8 hours.

Flow isn't an issue as I have a gyre going well. There is no film algae, no hair algae, no cyano. I would be open to dosing two part, I have no protein skimmer on the tank or filtration other than some filter floss once in a while. There is 25 pounds of live rock in the tank as well. I don't want to do water change as my ulva took off when I quit doing water changes. But I am out of balance for some reason. I read that carbon dosing is the way to go, but am concerned because I don't have a protein skimmer, randy or others do I need a protein skimmer to dose carbon?

Any thoughts are appreciated greatly.
 

Idoc

Still Covid free!!!
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
4,790
Reaction score
10,254
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Clarksville, TN
Are you seeing coraline algae growth on the rocks? That will cause your alkalinity and calcium to drop. It seems strange since you have no corals in the tank.

Also, carbon dosing doesn't seem like it would help your situation...that is done typically to reduce nutrients, which isn't an issue in your system.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,426
Reaction score
34,475
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
How are you measuring alkalinity?

Note: The ingredients in ALL for reef do not show up on an alkalinity test, and they recommend dosing it based on calcium, not alkalinity. That's a substantial drawback, IMO.
 
OP
R

Russell Casey

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
101
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Are you seeing coraline algae growth on the rocks? That will cause your alkalinity and calcium to drop. It seems strange since you have no corals in the tank.

Also, carbon dosing doesn't seem like it would help your situation...that is done typically to reduce nutrients, which isn't an issue in your system.
Great point, no need for carbon. I have no coraline algae in the tank.
 

hart24601

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
5,684
Reaction score
5,319
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Iowa
How are you measuring alkalinity?

Note: The ingredients in ALL for reef do not show up on an alkalinity test, and they recommend dosing it based on calcium, not alkalinity. That's a substantial drawback, IMO.

i will say that I have been using all for reef and just dose based on alk the following day for adjustments. Using a trident it’s been quite stable, however dosing based off calcium would be a hot mess. I hope they change that guidance and just say wait a day to see changes to alk from dosing.
 
OP
R

Russell Casey

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
101
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
How are you measuring alkalinity?

Note: The ingredients in ALL for reef do not show up on an alkalinity test, and they recommend dosing it based on calcium, not alkalinity. That's a substantial drawback, IMO.
Hi Randy,
I lay in the fetal position and rock back and forth than Buddha supplies it lol (trying to add levity) :). I am using the Hanna Checker DKH and did do the Salifert. I might know what the issue is and like to get your direction. My PH which is measured with a Hanna Checker and I check it with the API kit they are close in results I am getting a PH of 8.8 with the lights on. A ph of 8. 7 with the lights off. Would that high of a PH throw the alk out of balance? I truly have nothing in the tank other than macros so it confused me why my alk would be low.
 
OP
R

Russell Casey

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
101
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
i will say that I have been using all for reef and just dose based on alk the following day for adjustments. Using a trident it’s been quite stable, however dosing based off calcium would be a hot mess. I hope they change that guidance and just say wait a day to see changes to alk from dosing.
Good point. So you dose day before and measure Alk? I am dosing daily and it just isn't moving that much. So perhaps I will have to dose higher? The product seems good I have it on a fowler tank (all reef) and it keeps my alk steady but each system is different. I just found out you likely know that all for reef has a powdered version if you like to save some cash :).
 

hart24601

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
5,684
Reaction score
5,319
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Iowa
Good point. So you dose day before and measure Alk? I am dosing daily and it just isn't moving that much. So perhaps I will have to dose higher? The product seems good I have it on a fowler tank (all reef) and it keeps my alk steady but each system is different. I just found out you likely know that all for reef has a powdered version if you like to save some cash :).
I don’t think the powder is in the us yet, and I will probably keep using the diy from
Brs as I don’t want the magnesium which seems to hold stable from my auto water changes.

But yes for any changes I make it test the next day for alk. I have a4r on a doser so if I see alk is dropping I up the dose a few ml per day and see it the next day or in tests sometimes 12hr.

functionally it’s been the exact same as 2 part for dialing in, just space the test to the next day which isn’t a bad idea when narrowing down 2 part dosing either.

sounds like you need to up the dose.
 
OP
R

Russell Casey

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
101
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Thank you Tropic marin rep told me by June the powder will be here. But if you mix it won't be a big deal :). I will start doing that. Right now I am dosing 12.5ml a day throughout the day (should I dose it all at once?). This is a 32 gallon system, and my Alk is barely staying the same at 6.5. So I will add 2.5ml and see what changes. I also as I conveyed to Randy found out that my PH is 8.8 which is high and I am wondering if that isn't causing me Alk issues? Thoughts?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,426
Reaction score
34,475
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
i will say that I have been using all for reef and just dose based on alk the following day for adjustments. Using a trident it’s been quite stable, however dosing based off calcium would be a hot mess. I hope they change that guidance and just say wait a day to see changes to alk from dosing.

While I do not disagree, and am just relaying the suggestion they made in person here, I will note that you may not see overdosing this way. The excess formate may just be accumulating.
 
AS

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,426
Reaction score
34,475
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Hi Randy,
I lay in the fetal position and rock back and forth than Buddha supplies it lol (trying to add levity) :). I am using the Hanna Checker DKH and did do the Salifert. I might know what the issue is and like to get your direction. My PH which is measured with a Hanna Checker and I check it with the API kit they are close in results I am getting a PH of 8.8 with the lights on. A ph of 8. 7 with the lights off. Would that high of a PH throw the alk out of balance? I truly have nothing in the tank other than macros so it confused me why my alk would be low.

In such a scenario, I really do not see All for Reef as a desirable or needed product. You will have little real demand and I'd supply it with normal alkalinity.

You may just be accumulating formate in the tank.
 

hart24601

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
5,684
Reaction score
5,319
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Iowa
Randy is my hero so his word is reef chemistry law haha. But I would increase the dose and measure to see. I use a doser so I can’t say if all at once matters since I have it spread out.

I suspect ph isn’t really that high, this won’t boost ph so I bet there is some sort of error.
 

hart24601

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
5,684
Reaction score
5,319
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Iowa
While I do not disagree, and am just relaying the suggestion they made in person here, I will note that you may not see overdosing this way. The excess formate may just be accumulating.

Wouldnt the occasional calcium test indicate overdosing of any impactful amount? Looking at the trident the calcium stays around 440 give or take 10ppm for the past couple weeks.

Also what is the absolute max formate would accumulate I wonder, I have been running this for many months now with stable numbers and only adjusting a few ml for growth every few weeks - I wonder when or how a formate overdose would manifest.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,426
Reaction score
34,475
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Wouldnt the occasional calcium test indicate overdosing of any impactful amount? Looking at the trident the calcium stays around 440 give or take 10ppm for the past couple weeks.

Also what is the absolute max formate would accumulate I wonder, I have been running this for many months now with stable numbers and only adjusting a few ml for growth every few weeks - I wonder when or how a formate overdose would manifest.

Yes, but I do not know what level of formate is "impactful". A rise of 40 ppm in calcium would mean the equivalent of more than 5 dKH of alk "stored" in formate.
 
Avast

hart24601

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
5,684
Reaction score
5,319
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Iowa
Yes, but I do not know what level of formate is "impactful". A rise of 40 ppm in calcium would mean the equivalent of more than 5 dKH of alk "stored" in formate.
What would be the things to watch for? So far it has seemed just like dialing in any other additive and the tank has responded well.

This are the instructions off their website.

Start with a daily dose of 5 ml of ALL-FOR-REEF per 100 litres (26 US-gal) of aquarium system volume. Increase the daily dosage – by continuous monitoring of alkalinity – weekly by 2.5 ml per 100 litres (26 US-gal) of aquarium system volume, until a constant carbonate hardness of 7 to 9 °dH is reached.
 
Last edited:

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,426
Reaction score
34,475
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
I have no idea what toxicity formate might cause in elevated amounts (maybe hardly any), but one potential issue is to build up some formate, then one day the few bacteria species that can actually metabolize it take off growing, and alk rises unexpectedly as they eat the formate and spit out bicarbonate.
 

hart24601

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
5,684
Reaction score
5,319
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Iowa
I have no idea what toxicity formate might cause in elevated amounts (maybe hardly any), but one potential issue is to build up some formate, then one day the few bacteria species that can actually metabolize it take off growing, and alk rises unexpectedly as they eat the formate and spit out bicarbonate.

Fwiw as a data point while not conclusive in any aspect I started using all for reef in June 2020 - so 8 months give or take and have not noticed any calcium or alk spikes - and I look daily with the trident. It has responded just like dosing normal 2 part just with a day delay. Perhaps the spike is still coming but I did have my doser turned off and alk fell, I noticed via trident, so at least in my system formate doesn’t seem to build up at least yet. The doser was off about 12hr before I saw drop, but i might have noticed it faster with more frequent testing.
 
OP
R

Russell Casey

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
101
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
In such a scenario, I really do not see All for Reef as a desirable or needed product. You will have little real demand and I'd supply it with normal alkalinity.

You may just be accumulating formate in the tank.
Randy,
Great point, perhaps switch over to two part? As I track my measurements and I haven't been able to get the alk moving the way it needs to move for quite a while. So with formate you are indicating if I understand this correctly (please remember I went to public school) that the ingredients in all for reef isn't allowing my Alk to go up basically?
 
OP
R

Russell Casey

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
101
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Yes, but I do not know what level of formate is "impactful". A rise of 40 ppm in calcium would mean the equivalent of more than 5 dKH of alk "stored" in formate.
Wow, I didn't know that, so your fear Randy or concern is that suddenly the formate becomes available to the system the alk will shoot straight up.
 
Avast
Omega Sea, LLC
Top