Tropic Marin Parts A & B vs Bulk Reef Supply Pharma Parts A (calcium chloride) & B (sodium bicarbonate)

SDJustin

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
70
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
I'm trying to decide which 2 (or 3, or 4) part system I want to use with my reef, and am currently comparing Tropic Marin (TM) vs Bulk Reef Supply (BRS) Pharma parts A & B.

Here are some observations and related questions.

Tropic Marin Part A uses Calcium Chloride Dihydrate, while BRS is just Calcium Chloride. Reading the directions / using calculators, straight Calcium Chloride seems to raise the dKH by roughly twice the amount as Calcium Chloride Dihydrate.
<Q1>Is that correct? Calcium Chloride Dihydrate adds ~1/2 the carbonate hardness that straight Calcium Chloride does?
<Q2>What, if any, is the advantage of Calcium Chloride Dihydrate over Calcium Chloride?

Tropic Marin part B is a mixture of Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Bicarbonate. It takes 286g vs 302g of BRS sodium bi-carbonate to make a gallon of solution, and the dkH bump from a 30ml dose of each solution is roughly equivalent (raises 2.2dKH)
<Q>Why the mixture in Tropic Marine Part B of sodium carbonate/bicarbonate?

I did a bunch of math accounting for the different strengths and amounts needed (was a 'B' student when it came to Algebra so this may be wrong!). My calculations show BRS Calcium Chloride is approximately 42% of the cost of Tropic Marine Part A for the equivalent dKH boost.

<Q>Any reason to go with Tropic Marin part A & B and pay the premium instead of BRS pharma?

<Q>I'm guessing that the Tropic Marin formula's advantage is that I can dose equal parts A&B and everything stays balanced? Where as with BRS sodium bicarbonate (or sodium carbonate) / calcium chloride mixes, there is not a simple 1:1 between parts A&B and I have to dose different amounts to keep my ionic balance? (not considering TM part C which is another topic).

<Q>How does BRS Magnesium factor in the equation?

I've gone through two boxes of TM Part B (Sodium Carbonate/Bicarbonate) and both were clumped up really bad, and required lots of smashing and powder in the air to get something scoop-able. I don't mind paying a premium for TM if there are other advantages, and hopefully future TM part B boxes will not be clumped?

So confused! This makes me want to re-take high school and college chemistry.

-Justin
 
Maxout

blasterman

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 14, 2019
Messages
1,730
Reaction score
1,923
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Not sure where to start.

Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) raises alk/ dKH. Sodium carbonate is basically just baking soda that's been heated to drive off CO2. Its used over regular bicarbonate if you want because it delivers a bit of a PH boost. That's about it for the difference.

Calcium chloride raises calcium. Calcium chloride can also be dihydrate ...its just not labeled as such.

Alk and calcium are not dosed in a balanced ratio to do anything. Biggest lie in this hobby. If you have a lot of fast growing stony coral calcium and alk will be *consumed* at a fairly constant ratio. Big, big difference.

So, if your alk and calcium are being consumed by a tank full of stony coral then you dose at the same ratio to replenish...make sense? The actual coral consumption rules....not the math. In all other respects alk gets consumed in young tanks much faster than calcium. Takes a lot of fast growing SPS to dent calcium.

All the products you mention are good. Your corals won't care because they are food grade or better. If this is a beginner tank I suggest getting a dollar box of baking soda and dosing it and wait until your consumption with calcium gets higher before buying big bags from BRS.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,398
Reaction score
34,442
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
I'm trying to decide which 2 (or 3, or 4) part system I want to use with my reef, and am currently comparing Tropic Marin (TM) vs Bulk Reef Supply (BRS) Pharma parts A & B.

Here are some observations and related questions.

Tropic Marin Part A uses Calcium Chloride Dihydrate, while BRS is just Calcium Chloride. Reading the directions / using calculators, straight Calcium Chloride seems to raise the dKH by roughly twice the amount as Calcium Chloride Dihydrate.
<Q1>Is that correct? Calcium Chloride Dihydrate adds ~1/2 the carbonate hardness that straight Calcium Chloride does?
<Q2>What, if any, is the advantage of Calcium Chloride Dihydrate over Calcium Chloride?

Tropic Marin part B is a mixture of Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Bicarbonate. It takes 286g vs 302g of BRS sodium bi-carbonate to make a gallon of solution, and the dkH bump from a 30ml dose of each solution is roughly equivalent (raises 2.2dKH)
<Q>Why the mixture in Tropic Marine Part B of sodium carbonate/bicarbonate?

I did a bunch of math accounting for the different strengths and amounts needed (was a 'B' student when it came to Algebra so this may be wrong!). My calculations show BRS Calcium Chloride is approximately 42% of the cost of Tropic Marine Part A for the equivalent dKH boost.

<Q>Any reason to go with Tropic Marin part A & B and pay the premium instead of BRS pharma?

<Q>I'm guessing that the Tropic Marin formula's advantage is that I can dose equal parts A&B and everything stays balanced? Where as with BRS sodium bicarbonate (or sodium carbonate) / calcium chloride mixes, there is not a simple 1:1 between parts A&B and I have to dose different amounts to keep my ionic balance? (not considering TM part C which is another topic).

<Q>How does BRS Magnesium factor in the equation?

I've gone through two boxes of TM Part B (Sodium Carbonate/Bicarbonate) and both were clumped up really bad, and required lots of smashing and powder in the air to get something scoop-able. I don't mind paying a premium for TM if there are other advantages, and hopefully future TM part B boxes will not be clumped?

So confused! This makes me want to re-take high school and college chemistry.

-Justin

Yes, The BRS recipe is 1:1. I designed it.

BRS uses the dihydrate. Even for some recipe that does not, it t only impacts how much to use in a recipe. Nothing else.

The BRS "magnesium part" is akin to the Tropic Marin part CV of Balling, but is not as good as Balling Part C.

Using Balling Part C witht eh BRS calciuma nd alk is a great choice.
 
OP
SDJustin

SDJustin

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
70
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Yes, The BRS recipe is 1:1. I designed it.

BRS uses the dihydrate. Even for some recipe that does not, it t only impacts how much to use in a recipe. Nothing else.

The BRS "magnesium part" is akin to the Tropic Marin part CV of Balling, but is not as good as Balling Part C.

Using Balling Part C witht eh BRS calciuma nd alk is a great choice.
Thank you for your very clear explanations. Super helpful and appreciated.

Checking my understanding:
1 - BRS Calcium Chloride (dihydrate) is roughly the same actual salt compound, same salt strength (but mixed at different ratios of salt/water) as Tropic Marin.
2 - Dosing Sodium Carbonate with BRS Calcium Chloride should be roughly a 1:1 ratio.
3- Dosing Sodium Bicarbonate with BRS Calcium Chloride will not be a 1:1 mixture, as Sodium Bicarbonate adds less dKH by volume.
4 - BRS Magnesium helps with ionic balance just like Tropic Marin Part C, but misses the other 69 *trace* elements making the resulting water less like natural salt water.

<Q>If I use BRS sodium bicarbonate (instead of carbonate), what amount of Tropic Marin Part C would I add, as a ratio? (the instructions refer to sodium carbonate - "Dosing is based off your aquariums alkalinity dosage, and will twice that amount when using BRS Soda Ash.")


What has(had) me confused is this the directions between both products.
  • Dosing 30ml of mixed Tropic Marin Calcium Chloride Dihydrate solution raises 10US gallons 15ppm calcium.
  • Dosing 30ml of mixed BRS Calcium Chloride solution raises 10US gallons 30ppm calcium.

However, the amount of salt added is relatively equivalent (288g for TM, 514 grams for BRS).
Oh wait...I think I just answered my own question. They are NOT equivalent. The BRS solution is just putting more salt into solution.

I *think* that I want to run BRS sodium bi-carbonate instead of sodium carbonate. Main reason is my pH is fine (7.9 at 06:00, 8.2 at 18:00) and the sodium carbonate makes a mess, I get participate on my drip line and anything that is near it (so mostly the plumbing on top of my return pump) whereas sodium bicarbonate does not. It sounds like the disadvantage is I won't be at a 1:1 which just means topping off one dosing container at a different interval (or having different size dosing containers for parts A and B).



balling_instructions.png


BRS_Calculator.png


-Justin
 
Avast
OP
SDJustin

SDJustin

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
70
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
This is why I think bicarbonate wouldn't be a 1:1 with calcium chloride.
It takes 31ml of sodium bicarbonate to raise 10gallons 2.2dkh, and only 15ml of sodium carbonate.

carbonate_vs_bicarbonate.png



Instructions state to mix 302g of Sodium Bicarbonate for 1 gallon of solution.
Instructions state to mix 381g of Sodium Carbonate for 1 gallon of solution.
So the dkh by weight between the two salts isn't 1:1 nor 2:1, it's... something else.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,398
Reaction score
34,442
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
This is why I think bicarbonate wouldn't be a 1:1 with calcium chloride.
It takes 31ml of sodium bicarbonate to raise 10gallons 2.2dkh, and only 15ml of sodium carbonate.

carbonate_vs_bicarbonate.png



Sodium Bicarbonate takes 302g for 1 gallon solution.
Sodum carbonate takes 381g for 1 gallon of solution.

The calcium part is half as strong when using bicarbonate, to maintain 1:1 dosing, since the bicarbonate solution must be less potent due to solubility limitations.

My DIY recipes (which BRS typically uses with their materials) have the following recipes:

An Improved Do-it-Yourself Two-Part Calcium and Alkalinity Supplement System by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com

Recipe #2, Part 1: The Calcium Part

Dissolve 250 grams (about 1 ¼ cups) of calcium chloride dihydrate (such as Dowflake 77-80% calcium chloride or ESV calcium chloride; see below for substitutes and sources) in enough water to make 1 gallon of total volume. You can dissolve it in about ½ gallon of water, and then pour that into the 1 gallon container and fill it to the top with more freshwater. This solution is about 18,500 ppm in calcium. Winn Dixie Ad has new coupons this week again.

If using an anhydrous or monohydrate calcium chloride (such as Dow Mini-Pellets, Kent's Turbo Calcium, Prestone Driveway Heat or Peladow Calcium Chloride), then about 20% (1/5) less solid calcium chloride by volume should be used to make the recipe. Note that the solution will get quite hot when dissolving anhydrous calcium chloride. See the section on substitutions for further information.

Recipe #2, Part 2: The Alkalinity Part

Dissolve 297 grams of baking soda (about 1 1/8 cups) in enough water to make 1 gallon total. This dissolution may require a fair amount of mixing. Warming it speeds dissolution. This solution will contain about 950 meq/L of alkalinity (2660 dKH). As mentioned earlier, Arm & Hammer is a fine brand of baking soda to use in these recipes. Be sure to NOT use baking powder. Baking powder is a different material that often has phosphate as a main ingredient.

Once these two solutions are created, they can be added as frequently as necessary to maintain calcium and alkalinity. For further dosing instructions, see below.
 
OP
SDJustin

SDJustin

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
70
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
The calcium part is half as strong when using bicarbonate, to maintain 1:1 dosing, since the bicarbonate solution must be less potent due to solubility limitations.

My DIY recipes (which BRS typically uses with their materials) have the following recipes:

An Improved Do-it-Yourself Two-Part Calcium and Alkalinity Supplement System by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com

Recipe #2, Part 1: The Calcium Part

Dissolve 250 grams (about 1 ¼ cups) of calcium chloride dihydrate (such as Dowflake 77-80% calcium chloride or ESV calcium chloride; see below for substitutes and sources) in enough water to make 1 gallon of total volume. You can dissolve it in about ½ gallon of water, and then pour that into the 1 gallon container and fill it to the top with more freshwater. This solution is about 18,500 ppm in calcium. Winn Dixie Ad has new coupons this week again.

If using an anhydrous or monohydrate calcium chloride (such as Dow Mini-Pellets, Kent's Turbo Calcium, Prestone Driveway Heat or Peladow Calcium Chloride), then about 20% (1/5) less solid calcium chloride by volume should be used to make the recipe. Note that the solution will get quite hot when dissolving anhydrous calcium chloride. See the section on substitutions for further information.

Recipe #2, Part 2: The Alkalinity Part

Dissolve 297 grams of baking soda (about 1 1/8 cups) in enough water to make 1 gallon total. This dissolution may require a fair amount of mixing. Warming it speeds dissolution. This solution will contain about 950 meq/L of alkalinity (2660 dKH). As mentioned earlier, Arm & Hammer is a fine brand of baking soda to use in these recipes. Be sure to NOT use baking powder. Baking powder is a different material that often has phosphate as a main ingredient.

Once these two solutions are created, they can be added as frequently as necessary to maintain calcium and alkalinity. For further dosing instructions, see below.

Thanks, makes sense.
So I can simply dilute my calcium solution by half and get to 1:1. Roger that. Understood.

I went down this fun rabbit hole of trying to understand all the chemical reactions to see if I could understand what the final 'stable' solution would be and then count the carbonate ions. There's still only 1 carbonate ion (CO3) in each of the molecules for both sodium carbonate and bicarbonate, but then I went back to different salt weights, and then researched molecular weight and found that sodium bicarbonate has a LOWER molecular weight which doesn't make sense but then what happens to that extra Sodium Molecule once Sodium Carbonate reacts with H20 and then produces Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Hydroxide and then... etc etc I quickly got lost. In any case, was fun!

-Justin
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,398
Reaction score
34,442
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Thanks, makes sense.
So I can simply dilute my calcium solution by half and get to 1:1. Roger that. Understood.

I went down this fun rabbit hole of trying to understand all the chemical reactions to see if I could understand what the final 'stable' solution would be and then count the carbonate ions. There's still only 1 carbonate ion (CO3) in each of the molecules for both sodium carbonate and bicarbonate, but then I went back to different salt weights, and then researched molecular weight and found that sodium bicarbonate has a LOWER molecular weight which doesn't make sense but then what happens to that extra Sodium Molecule once Sodium Carbonate reacts with H20 and then produces Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Hydroxide and then... etc etc I quickly got lost. In any case, was fun!

-Justin

One carbonate is twice as useful as one bicarbonate:

CO3-- + CO2 + H2O <---> 2HCO3-
 

Billldg

GHL Bound
View Badges
Joined
May 14, 2018
Messages
15,073
Reaction score
108,045
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Georgia
I'm trying to decide which 2 (or 3, or 4) part system I want to use with my reef, and am currently comparing Tropic Marin (TM) vs Bulk Reef Supply (BRS) Pharma parts A & B.

Here are some observations and related questions.

Tropic Marin Part A uses Calcium Chloride Dihydrate, while BRS is just Calcium Chloride. Reading the directions / using calculators, straight Calcium Chloride seems to raise the dKH by roughly twice the amount as Calcium Chloride Dihydrate.
<Q1>Is that correct? Calcium Chloride Dihydrate adds ~1/2 the carbonate hardness that straight Calcium Chloride does?
<Q2>What, if any, is the advantage of Calcium Chloride Dihydrate over Calcium Chloride?

Tropic Marin part B is a mixture of Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Bicarbonate. It takes 286g vs 302g of BRS sodium bi-carbonate to make a gallon of solution, and the dkH bump from a 30ml dose of each solution is roughly equivalent (raises 2.2dKH)
<Q>Why the mixture in Tropic Marine Part B of sodium carbonate/bicarbonate?

I did a bunch of math accounting for the different strengths and amounts needed (was a 'B' student when it came to Algebra so this may be wrong!). My calculations show BRS Calcium Chloride is approximately 42% of the cost of Tropic Marine Part A for the equivalent dKH boost.

<Q>Any reason to go with Tropic Marin part A & B and pay the premium instead of BRS pharma?

<Q>I'm guessing that the Tropic Marin formula's advantage is that I can dose equal parts A&B and everything stays balanced? Where as with BRS sodium bicarbonate (or sodium carbonate) / calcium chloride mixes, there is not a simple 1:1 between parts A&B and I have to dose different amounts to keep my ionic balance? (not considering TM part C which is another topic).

<Q>How does BRS Magnesium factor in the equation?

I've gone through two boxes of TM Part B (Sodium Carbonate/Bicarbonate) and both were clumped up really bad, and required lots of smashing and powder in the air to get something scoop-able. I don't mind paying a premium for TM if there are other advantages, and hopefully future TM part B boxes will not be clumped?

So confused! This makes me want to re-take high school and college chemistry.

-Justin
I definitely would trust what @Randy Holmes-Farley says.

I just went with the @Bulk Reef Supply Hybrid Balling method. Very simple to follow.
 
Corals.com
OP
SDJustin

SDJustin

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
70
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Thanks, makes sense.
So I can simply dilute my calcium solution by half and get to 1:1. Roger that. Understood.

I went down this fun rabbit hole of trying to understand all the chemical reactions to see if I could understand what the final 'stable' solution would be and then count the carbonate ions. There's still only 1 carbonate ion (CO3) in each of the molecules for both sodium carbonate and bicarbonate, but then I went back to different salt weights, and then researched molecular weight and found that sodium bicarbonate has a LOWER molecular weight which doesn't make sense but then what happens to that extra Sodium Molecule once Sodium Carbonate reacts with H20 and then produces Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Hydroxide and then... etc etc I quickly got lost. In any case, was fun!

-Justin

Ah...and I see a main difference between your first and second recipe is the amount of calcium chloride added because part 2 is either sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate.

SO OBVIOUS NOW.

Thanks for taking the time to explain.

-Justin
 
OP
SDJustin

SDJustin

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
70
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
I just went with the @Bulk Reef Supply Hybrid Balling method. Very simple to follow.

All the info I could find on BRS Hybrid Balling used Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) and I want to use Sodium Bicarbonate. Which is @Randy Holmes-Farley 's Recipe 2 which I didn't realize until a few minutes ago.

Plus one of the parts of this hobby that I love is going deep, using it as an excuse to learn more about biology, chemistry, ecology, etc.
 

PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 43 6.4%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 468 70.1%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 5 0.7%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 59 8.8%
  • PH (most)

    Votes: 66 9.9%
  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 64 9.6%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 3 0.4%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 15 2.2%
  • (least) Calcium

    Votes: 9 1.3%
  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 4 0.6%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 58 8.7%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 14 2.1%
  • (least) PH

    Votes: 35 5.2%
  • (least) Nitrate

    Votes: 12 1.8%
  • (least) Nitrite

    Votes: 197 29.5%
  • (least) Ammonia

    Votes: 255 38.2%
Top