ph not improving despite all your efforts? This read my help you in your hunt for a better ph

david campbell

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Ok. Have you tried everything you have found on improving PH? Scrubbers, outside air into your skimmer, bigger refugium, and so on. First I want to say those do work. But a lot of times they do not. If you are one of those hobbyists that have gone down this road trying to figure out why your ph is not higher. Then this info about my experience may aid you.

I will start with this. DO YOUR RESEARCH. One needs to understand ph and what causes lower or higher levels. There is a lot of excellent articles here in this forum that will aid you. And remember this is not an “ it will work” BECAUSE not all tanks are created equal. So enough with the disclaimers. Hahahahaha let's get to my story. OHHH feel free to correct anything I may have gotten wrong in this write-up so that I can revise it. I’m typing from the hip here. If you are not interested in my journey then feel free to jump to the end.

I have a 185TG 3.5year old mixed reef that has had a ph level of 7.8-7.9 for a good long while. Some say that’s fine, and they are correct. The ph ranges that are acceptable in this hobby are 7.8-8.3 I believe. A lot of good-looking tanks with what I (IMO) call low ph. But for me; well I was fascinated by trying to create a natural seawater environment which is a ph range of 8.2-8.3. You see I am a number chaser, plain and simple and proud of it; one learns a lot by deep diving into things a.k.a number chasing.

Several months ago I decided to chase the dragon (numbers) I mean why is my ph so low? I wanted to know why. So after several threads and hours of research. I took the following actions. I’m not going to explain each action below, your research will explain them in better detail than me

  • I performed the outside and inside aeration test on my tank water. The result was I have a CO2 problem. However: Both tests produced a higher ph. WHATTTTT!!!! both tests? So inside air was low in CO2? INTERESTING!!!!! SO I
  • Installed a DIY co2 scrubber. I like making things first. It's an engineer thing.
  • Installed said scrubber in a recirculating and non-recirculating manner. This DIY project was a failure it was too big.
  • Bought a used reactor from a hobbyist and installed it in a recirculating and non-recirculating manner.
  • Installed a whisper air pump using inside air to the scrubber to force more inside air into my tank.
  • install outside air to my skimmer. Again, no help.
  • I installed air stones to my sump, no help. my orp however bumped up really well.
  • I added wavemakers to the sump and redirected my DT wavemakers to improve surface agitation.
  • I added plants to the room.
  • I ran a small fan above my dt blowing across the water.
  • I ran a large fan from the hallway into my fish room.
  • Installed a ceiling fan in the fish room.
  • I opened doors and windows for hours on end when I could with the fans.
I ran these setups independently and in a mixed combo fashion for several days at a time and watched my ph. I saw a little improvement maybe a .05 jump in ph. no great Improvement. Bummer. I was really scratching my head. So many success stories using these methods. As of today, I still have my items 6, 8, 10 above running on my setup…….

Why do I have CO2 IN MY WATER? So back to the research I went to, but this time I wanted to know about CO2. What I learned was that I need to either remove it from the tank or use the CO2 in the water. This is where I discovered kalkwasser……. EASY!!!!! This is not the savior of this document.

Kalkwasser is a high ph base substance that a lot of people dose to their tanks. One of its many benefits is to use CO2 that is in your water. So in my mind; if I can’t remove CO2, I'm going to use it up. SO

Started dosing kalkwasser… MANNNNNNN you really need to research this

I have seen an improvement with this stuff. And I am still doseing it and dialing it in, to the proper levels. what’s the proper level you ask? That is tank-dependent and not an easy answer.

At this point in time (about 2 months’ worth of work) I stepped back and accepted the small bump in ph as a win. I went from a 7.8 -7.9 to a 7.9 -8.0? I mean I got burned out chasing this ph dragon.

Fast forward to three days ago. I was ready again to start chasing the dragon. Knowing about what did not work, pushed to me take a deeper dive into CO2.. Co2 comes from three main places.

  • Co2 from running a ca reactor. I do not have one.
  • Coral respiration. I can do nothing about that. Its nature.
  • Air quality in the home. That I can control.
I Latched on to number three. This I can improve. So I took a good long look at my fish room and how the air flows in and out of it.

My fish room is a converted laundry room. it's 8 x 8 ft with an ac vent, it’s in the center of my home, so there are no windows, air circulation is poor since it is humid in there and it's hot. Not sweaty hot but not cool like the living room. I mean I can tell a temp change just by stepping into the room from the hallway. This pointed me to wonder how to get more airflow in here since all the fans I used prior never made a difference.

I had an idea back in the beginning of this journey which led me to briefly visit HVAC forums. but quickly got overwhelmed with the idea of improving air quality by pulling fresh air into my home somehow and just dropped the idea. This idea was to install a fan of some kind above my tank to blow/pull outside air onto the top of my DT.

I have had great help from people when I brought this idea back up and some not so helpful people. It’s amazing to me why some believe an idea is overkill and will remind it of that. No it's not. But others are and did support it with good advice. Nevertheless, I moved forward. With the help of supporters, we concluded that instead of installing a fan to blow outside air into my fish room I should pull air out of my fish room, thus pulling in air to said room. We came to this conclusion based on possible negative impacts to my HVAC unit positive & negative pressures and so on etc.

So yesterday I installed a large 150 cfm bathroom exhaust fan in my 124 sq ft area (wait) 124 sq feet? But you said it was a 8 x 8’ fish room? Well, you must walk thru my fish room to get to the new laundry room, these were the terms my wife made me agree to. “You want a fish room I want a larger pantry,” she said. Anyway, both rooms are not vented and stuffy. She loves her new pantry.

This fan has been running for almost 24 hours, BUT after a few hours of running the room was much cooler and less humid by1000%. So much we feel the difference. It feels like a normal room should. That was a wonderful surprise I mean; why did my stand-up fans not have the same effect, that this exhaust fan has had? I’m curious.

My max ph over the past 7 days has been 8.07 (apex) and that is recorded at approx. 6 pm. Today I hit 8.1 at noon and it's been running for less than 24 hrs. never the less; I am liking what I am seeing here as it pertains to my ph and I may not need to pull outside air into my home. So, there you have it. I installed an exhaust fan in my fish room and my ph is showing a much better boost than all other methods I tried.

So, in closing, I want to thank everyone who provided great advice on this vent project. There are too many to name. so, if you’re having a ph. problem and you too, have tried almost everything, look to your air quality/airflow. You may just find a solution. I am still curious about 3 things, however.

  • Why did my stand-up fans not help? The exhaust fan pulls air into my room from the house just like the fans did. this is odd.
  • Why did exhausting the air from the fish room improve my ph?
  • Is this an improvement in air quality or airflow in my fish room?
  • Screenshot_20220128-103608_Gallery.jpg
Screenshot_20220128-102839_Gallery.jpg
 
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Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

AJsReef

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High CO2 in well insulated homes is definitely an issue these days that is often over looked.

Personally, I’ve been looking into Energy Recovery Ventilators or ERVs. Which let you vent fresh air in your home but recover the energy (heat or cool) of the air you’re exhausting.
 

Calm Blue Ocean

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I had a similar experience to yours, finding that I got the biggest most reliable pH boost from running the exhaust fan in the bathroom. Even better if I also run the kitchen exhaust fan. And the one in the hallway bathroom! Knowing this I'm now debating either installing an ERV/HRV or maybe just a bigger exhaust fan rated for continuous use like the Panasonic WhisperGreen. The contractor special that's in the bathroom right now really needs to be replaced anyway.
 

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Ok. Have you tried everything you have found on improving PH? Scrubbers, outside air into your skimmer, bigger refugium, and so on. First I want to say those do work. But a lot of times they do not. If you are one of those hobbyists that have gone down this road trying to figure out why your ph is not higher. Then this info about my experience may aid you.

I will start with this. DO YOUR RESEARCH. One needs to understand ph and what causes lower or higher levels. There is a lot of excellent articles here in this forum that will aid you. And remember this is not an “ it will work” BECAUSE not all tanks are created equal. So enough with the disclaimers. Hahahahaha let's get to my story. OHHH feel free to correct anything I may have gotten wrong in this write-up so that I can revise it. I’m typing from the hip here. If you are not interested in my journey then feel free to jump to the end.

I have a 185TG 3.5year old mixed reef that has had a ph level of 7.8-7.9 for a good long while. Some say that’s fine, and they are correct. The ph ranges that are acceptable in this hobby are 7.8-8.3 I believe. A lot of good-looking tanks with what I (IMO) call low ph. But for me; well I was fascinated by trying to create a natural seawater environment which is a ph range of 8.2-8.3. You see I am a number chaser, plain and simple and proud of it; one learns a lot by deep diving into things a.k.a number chasing.

Several months ago I decided to chase the dragon (numbers) I mean why is my ph so low? I wanted to know why. So after several threads and hours of research. I took the following actions. I’m not going to explain each action below, your research will explain them in better detail than me

  • I performed the outside and inside aeration test on my tank water. The result was I have a CO2 problem. However: Both tests produced a higher ph. WHATTTTT!!!! both tests? So inside air was low in CO2? INTERESTING!!!!! SO I
  • Installed a DIY co2 scrubber. I like making things first. It's an engineer thing.
  • Installed said scrubber in a recirculating and non-recirculating manner. This DIY project was a failure it was too big.
  • Bought a used reactor from a hobbyist and installed it in a recirculating and non-recirculating manner.
  • Installed a whisper air pump using inside air to the scrubber to force more inside air into my tank.
  • install outside air to my skimmer. Again, no help.
  • I installed air stones to my sump, no help. my orp however bumped up really well.
  • I added wavemakers to the sump and redirected my DT wavemakers to improve surface agitation.
  • I added plants to the room.
  • I ran a small fan above my dt blowing across the water.
  • I ran a large fan from the hallway into my fish room.
  • Installed a ceiling fan in the fish room.
  • I opened doors and windows for hours on end when I could with the fans.
I ran these setups independently and in a mixed combo fashion for several days at a time and watched my ph. I saw a little improvement maybe a .05 jump in ph. no great Improvement. Bummer. I was really scratching my head. So many success stories using these methods. As of today, I still have my items 6, 8, 10 above running on my setup…….

Why do I have CO2 IN MY WATER? So back to the research I went to, but this time I wanted to know about CO2. What I learned was that I need to either remove it from the tank or use the CO2 in the water. This is where I discovered kalkwasser……. EASY!!!!! This is not the savior of this document.

Kalkwasser is a high ph base substance that a lot of people dose to their tanks. One of its many benefits is to use CO2 that is in your water. So in my mind; if I can’t remove CO2, I'm going to use it up. SO

Started dosing kalkwasser… MANNNNNNN you really need to research this

I have seen an improvement with this stuff. And I am still doseing it and dialing it in, to the proper levels. what’s the proper level you ask? That is tank-dependent and not an easy answer.

At this point in time (about 2 months’ worth of work) I stepped back and accepted the small bump in ph as a win. I went from a 7.8 -7.9 to a 7.9 -8.0? I mean I got burned out chasing this ph dragon.

Fast forward to three days ago. I was ready again to start chasing the dragon. Knowing about what did not work, pushed to me take a deeper dive into CO2.. Co2 comes from three main places.

  • Co2 from running a ca reactor. I do not have one.
  • Coral respiration. I can do nothing about that. Its nature.
  • Air quality in the home. That I can control.
I Latched on to number three. This I can improve. So I took a good long look at my fish room and how the air flows in and out of it.

My fish room is a converted laundry room. it's 8 x 8 ft with an ac vent, it’s in the center of my home, so there are no windows, air circulation is poor since it is humid in there and it's hot. Not sweaty hot but not cool like the living room. I mean I can tell a temp change just by stepping into the room from the hallway. This pointed me to wonder how to get more airflow in here since all the fans I used prior never made a difference.

I had an idea back in the beginning of this journey which led me to briefly visit HVAC forums. but quickly got overwhelmed with the idea of improving air quality by pulling fresh air into my home somehow and just dropped the idea. This idea was to install a fan of some kind above my tank to blow/pull outside air onto the top of my DT.

I have had great help from people when I brought this idea back up and some not so helpful people. It’s amazing to me why some believe an idea is overkill and will remind it of that. No it's not. But others are and did support it with good advice. Nevertheless, I moved forward. With the help of supporters, we concluded that instead of installing a fan to blow outside air into my fish room I should pull air out of my fish room, thus pulling in air to said room. We came to this conclusion based on possible negative impacts to my HVAC unit positive & negative pressures and so on etc.

So yesterday I installed a large 150 cfm bathroom exhaust fan in my 124 sq ft area (wait) 124 sq feet? But you said it was a 8 x 8’ fish room? Well, you must walk thru my fish room to get to the new laundry room, these were the terms my wife made me agree to. “You want a fish room I want a larger pantry,” she said. Anyway, both rooms are not vented and stuffy. She loves her new pantry.

This fan has been running for almost 24 hours, BUT after a few hours of running the room was much cooler and less humid by1000%. So much we feel the difference. It feels like a normal room should. That was a wonderful surprise I mean; why did my stand-up fans not have the same effect, that this exhaust fan has had? I’m curious.

My max ph over the past 7 days has been 8.07 (apex) and that is recorded at approx. 6 pm. Today I hit 8.1 at noon and it's been running for less than 24 hrs. never the less; I am liking what I am seeing here as it pertains to my ph and I may not need to pull outside air into my home. So, there you have it. I installed an exhaust fan in my fish room and my ph is showing a much better boost than all other methods I tried.

So, in closing, I want to thank everyone who provided great advice on this vent project. There are too many to name. so, if you’re having a ph. problem and you too, have tried almost everything, look to your air quality/airflow. You may just find a solution. I am still curious about 3 things, however.

  • Why did my stand-up fans not help? The exhaust fan pulls air into my room from the house just like the fans did. this is odd.
  • Why did exhausting the air from the fish room improve my ph?
  • Is this an improvement in air quality or airflow in my fish room?
Your exhaust fan is pushing air outside creating negative pressure in the house beacaue of this fresh air is sucked thru cracks and windows and doors and other ventilation points this is diluting this inside co2
 

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High CO2 in well insulated homes is definitely an issue these days that is often over looked.

Personally, I’ve been looking into Energy Recovery Ventilators or ERVs. Which let you vent fresh air in your home but recover the energy (heat or cool) of the air you’re exhausting.
I went thru all this and this past summer end up installing an erv and will never look back. I am so impressed with the results. I average 8.35-8.45 thru night and day
 
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Fernthereefer

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I have a similar story, in the sense that my pH hovered around 7.8-7.9 during the first year.

Turns out that the gaz boiler in the basement was old. When we replaced it with an eletric boiler, my tank reached 8.3 steady. No other change.

This year? 8.4-8.5 .... not worried because it is stable, but there you have it.

High air quality is the most important!
 

Red_Beard

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Neat write up!
The difference with the box fans would be that most of the air flow is recirculated because of air turbulence. The first bit of air gets pushed out and bumps into the air in the other room, and because it isn’t venting into anywhere else, raises static pressure. This pressure differential causes the air to just circulate directly around the fan more than actually creating flow.

High CO2 in well insulated homes is definitely an issue these days that is often over looked.

Personally, I’ve been looking into Energy Recovery Ventilators or ERVs. Which let you vent fresh air in your home but recover the energy (heat or cool) of the air you’re exhausting.
Love ERVs in new homes. Especially if you cook. Amazing how much humidity goes up when the house is tight, to say nothing of air quality.
 

AJsReef

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Neat write up!
The difference with the box fans would be that most of the air flow is recirculated because of air turbulence. The first bit of air gets pushed out and bumps into the air in the other room, and because it isn’t venting into anywhere else, raises static pressure. This pressure differential causes the air to just circulate directly around the fan more than actually creating flow.


Love ERVs in new homes. Especially if you cook. Amazing how much humidity goes up when the house is tight, to say nothing of air quality.

I’m really considering a Santa Fe Dehumidifier with built in ERV. Only thing is the install costs are insane. $1,700 unit costs beyond $6k after install :(
 

AJsReef

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I went thru all this and this past summer end up installing an erv and will never look back. I am so impressed with the results. I average 8.35-8.45 thru night and day
What brand did you go with? Did you DIY the install?
 

Red_Beard

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Holy cow!
I’m really considering a Santa Fe Dehumidifier with built in ERV. Only thing is the install costs are insane. $1,700 unit costs beyond $6k after install :(
Never done a Santa Fe, I am used to the Honeywell. Depending on your home layout, they aren't super crazy to install. You need to run 4 ducts from the unit, 2 inside, 2 outside. String some power cable to it and a stat wire if you want external control. Dont get me wrong, you will probably spend a day or two doing it, but if you are handy, you should be able to figure it out from the install manual that comes with it. The hardest part for normal homeowners would be balancing the system, other than figuring out where to put everything. I usually put a slight positive pressure in the house, it keeps dust from getting in under the door and window sills.
 
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david campbell

david campbell

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well, i did not diy the installation. im pretty handy so i installed my myself. a family member who was in HVAC for years, told me about the easy way to pull in outside air without the upfront cost. I could just install a small take-off onto my return line and a controllable damper and boom done. the cons would be the unit will run a little bit longer and hard depending in the size of this take of, and maybe a small bump on the electric bill. but for just air, I could reduce a 4" take off down to a 1/2 pcv pipe and still get fresh air. that would be a diy......I'm going to ponder that while I Montier this exhaust fan. I'm not jumping on that right away but it is my next step if I need to take one. I was going to go with a hrv unit from lowes but bought something else.

i am now pro fresh air into the home 24/7 now.

272327091_1092245718279179_7062196402754279777_n.jpg

272208766_1092325271604557_6336604627660701150_n.jpg


why is it offset? yeah :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:there was a truss brace directly onto the ceiling box.. not a truss, a brace. ductwork tomorrow.
 
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AJsReef

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Holy cow!

Never done a Santa Fe, I am used to the Honeywell. Depending on your home layout, they aren't super crazy to install. You need to run 4 ducts from the unit, 2 inside, 2 outside. String some power cable to it and a stat wire if you want external control. Dont get me wrong, you will probably spend a day or two doing it, but if you are handy, you should be able to figure it out from the install manual that comes with it. The hardest part for normal homeowners would be balancing the system, other than figuring out where to put everything. I usually put a slight positive pressure in the house, it keeps dust from getting in under the door and window sills.

That's how I am leaning for sure, unless I can find a HVAC tech who wants to work adhoc on a weekend.

The issue I am afraid of doing it myself is definitely the DIY aspect. Many of the units state preferred install is tied into the HVAC system which brings potential for static pressure issues.

If I DIY, I'd probably just create its own loop. Put an extra return in the "great room" above the tank, maybe tie one in from the master bath for humidity reduction then add a few supply vents. Would have to pick up an anemometer and learn to use it. If it saves me $4k though...

Do you remember the model you installed?
 

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That's how I am leaning for sure, unless I can find a HVAC tech who wants to work adhoc on a weekend.

The issue I am afraid of doing it myself is definitely the DIY aspect. Many of the units state preferred install is tied into the HVAC system which brings potential for static pressure issues.

If I DIY, I'd probably just create its own loop. Put an extra return in the "great room" above the tank, maybe tie one in from the master bath for humidity reduction then add a few supply vents. Would have to pick up an anemometer and learn to use it. If it saves me $4k though...

Do you remember the model you installed?
The static pressure aspect of the install is such a small portion of it you literally are going to stall a dampener on the inlet in the outlet for future balancing of the static pressure it’s not that important but at the time you feel do you want to adjust it all that’s required is two little holes drilled with sensors stuffed in there for the moment while you open or close the dampeners pretty simple
 

Jonify

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I have been telling it to anyone who will listen to me--crack a window and watch your pH rise. I learned this after battling low pH in a small, brand new condo. Didn't click until I bought a home CO2 monitor and saw my home CO2 levels would sometimes hit 2000ppm (!). Cracked a window which immediately helped. Turned on my bathroom exhaust fan to make sure there was always negative pressure, and now my home CO2 levels are ~500ppm. I have a CO2 scrubber for when we fire up the gas oven or have a lot of people over. Never worried about low pH again.
 
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AJsReef

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The static pressure aspect of the install is such a small portion of it you literally are going to stall a dampener on the inlet in the outlet for future balancing of the static pressure it’s not that important but at the time you feel do you want to adjust it all that’s required is two little holes drilled with sensors stuffed in there for the moment while you open or close the dampeners pretty simple

Good to know, definitely something I need to research a little more. Hearing people DIY it makes me more positive about trying. I already have a split zone system w/ dampers which is finicky is my big blocker. I guess if I mess it up, I can always hire a tech to fix it :)
 

AJsReef

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I have been telling it to anyone who will listen to me--crack a window and watch your pH rise. I learned this after battling low pH in a small, brand new condo. Didn't click until I bought a home CO2 monitor and saw my home CO2 levels would sometimes hit 2000ppm (!). Cracked a window which immediately helped. Turned on my bathroom exhaust fan to make sure there was always negative pressure, and now my home CO2 levels are ~500ppm. I have a CO2 scrubber for when we fire up the gas oven or have a lot of people over. Never worried about low pH again.

2000ppm is crazy high! Did you notice a difference in day to day health dropping it down?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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  • I performed the outside and inside aeration test on my tank water. The result was I have a CO2 problem. However: Both tests produced a higher ph. WHATTTTT!!!! both tests? So inside air was low in CO2? INTERESTING!!!!! SO I

Just to clarify, a rising pH with indoor air aeration does not mean it has low CO2, it just means it has lower effective CO2 than the water does. That may most often be true at night.
For example, a rise from pH 7.8 to 7.9 to 8.0 when equilibrated still means there is excess CO2 in the home air.
 

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Good to know, definitely something I need to research a little more. Hearing people DIY it makes me more positive about trying. I already have a split zone system w/ dampers which is finicky is my big blocker. I guess if I mess it up, I can always hire a tech to fix it :)
For me the worst part was drilling the 2 six inch holes through the side of the concrete wall from the basement out. Had to buy a hole saw and rent a drill Because my Dewalt drill which is the largest one they make was not big enough to spend the 15 pound bit

72D2004B-00B9-4B0D-AAA1-B6AA7B99B36D.jpeg
 

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2000ppm is crazy high! Did you notice a difference in day to day health dropping it down?
I have the same issues with about 1800 and after installing the ERV I noticed my headaches seem to go away
 
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How often do you buy coral from other hobbyists?

  • Very Often

    Votes: 77 22.4%
  • Occasionally

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  • Very Rare

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  • Never

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  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 12 3.5%
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