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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is there a balance? How do you monitor, balance and maintain your levels and what do you Use or Not use? What should we be testing for that maybe we don't?

Thought I'd try and spark all of Ye Geniuses out there!
Maybe this has been discussed like DSB's and I missed it?
 

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This is a good topic Buckwheat! I'm interested in hearing other's opinions on this matter. As far as Ca, Alk, and Ph are concerned I test once a week(sometimes 2) with Seachem's test kits (although once I run out I'll probably switch to Salifert or Lamotte, I've heard they are more reliable and accurate) I use 2 1/2 tps of Seachems liquid Ca every night. It keeps the level at 450-475. I used to use 2 part B-Ionic by ESV but I wasn't particuarly impressed so I decided to experimint. Right now I'm using Reef Builder and Reef Buffer by Seachem (funny that I seem to have a lot of stuff by Seachem!). Usually If I dose once a week with Reef Buffer it keeps the Ph up. I haven't had a whole lot of trouble with alk, that may be due in part to my rigourous practice of 25% weekly WCs. It may seem like a lot but it's worked for me! Thats about it, I'm looking forward to everyone else's opinions!
 

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Was that a thumbs up from Spanky? Wow! :funny:
 

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Ipersonally like the Hach test kits. Very accurate, reasonably priced and once you have the kits you only need to buy refills and they are not expensive. I have tried just about all of the diferent test kits except for LaMotte and so far the hach have been the easiest to read.

http://www.hach.com/
 

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Ok ya beat me to it. I was gonna rip Lloyd off and go with tank diversity. We'll get to that one cuz it would be a great topic.

On this one topic.

I still test daily I have to as my tank is still very young, almost 11 months. In the early stages I tested a few times a day. In the AM before work, evenings right after work and before bed. Excessive maybe but being new to salt I found that it helped me get a good handle on how everyone reacts to change. You hear a lot about guys being able to eyeball a tank and get a feel for what's happening, I finally have that and got it from running a lot of tests and watching who did what and when.

My chemical additions were rather simple, raise the PH add a little alk add turbo calk. I happen to like that product. I tried using the B-Ionic early on did it wrong and botched the process, same with Kalk.

I just added a reactor last week and I have to tell you for stability you can't beat it. Thought tonight I came home reactor chamber was empty and gas was flying thru the counter.

In all honesty I had other plans tonight but I still look in on the tank when I get home, I eyeball it and test later in the evening things just didn't look quite right. A few guys were closed up that are normally full open this time of day. I did a water change last night so I figured I would stick my nose behind the tank. Salt according to the monitor was a couple of point's low NBD really. I grab a bucket open one of the drains so I have water to work with and I notice the Ca reactor is empty. No harm to anyone PH was a few points off and being raised now everyone starting to move about, open up etc. This all comes from testing 3 times a day and getting a feel for my tank.

I test daily Ca Alk PH and nitrate I test for Am a few times a week; I test for iodine every few days. I have a strontium test kit but have yet to use it I really don't have the critters or demand for it yet.

I also tend to test more when I add something or I make a change. I added some macro algaes and they started to die off the leached potassium into the system and I started getting algae. Po readings were a little high for me so that was to be expected from the die-off. Really for me it's about being mindful of the reactions my actions cause. I have heard that someplace ;)

Raising PH I use seachem, iodine I use lugols, Ca and alk from the reactor strontium I add as per directed also a seachem product.

Monitoring I use a Pinpoint for salt with a refractometer as a back up. Usually I set the salt watch the monitor and just double check it against the refractometer, once I know its set I can leave it alone. I have a controller for alk but to be honest it's new to me and I'm not sure of it so I unplugged it and just manually set the drip and bubble counter out of the Co2 tank and that seems to be working well. With the exception of my little mishap today which was caused by last nights water change. Basically when I changed the water I broke the gravity feed to the reactor and ran it dry. Something to be mindful of in the future when I do my water changes. Lesson learned tuition paid in full.

As for trace elements most of what you need can be found in a good salt mix. For me and you guys have all heard me preaching before the key is water changes. I hope this doesn't sidetrack your thread Buckwheat :(

I find that you can get most of what you need and keep everyone at my level healthy with clean water. I am sure if your keeping clams or other exotic high maint corals that's salt isn't going to give you everything and you will have to add trace but I'm not at that level yet.

So basically all my guys are happy and healthy just from basic maint and keeping an eye on things and being mindful of what I do.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
WOW Mike really sounds like your doing allot! Here I am, with just a Kalk drip! I have LaMotte ALK & find it rather difficult to test but doable. I use Saliflert for CA and it is easy. I use Tropic Marin for Nitrate, Nitrite and they SUCK to use, I find these difficult to actually tell Exactly what your reading on the color charts, otherwise the test itself is easy enough. I have to say Saliflert Amonia and ph seem accurate and easy for my purpose(I hope)!

So far good but not what I'm wanting to learn. You see so many methods of raising CA and ALK and PH but do you know what your adding to your tank?
 

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Mkelly said:
I still test daily I have to as my tank is still very young, almost 11 months. In the early stages I tested a few times a day. In the AM before work, evenings right after work and before bed. Excessive maybe but being new to salt I found that it helped me get a good handle on how everyone reacts to change. You hear a lot about guys being able to eyeball a tank and get a feel for what's happening, I finally have that and got it from running a lot of tests and watching who did what and when.
Mike
oh fine, make me feel dumb. it took you 11 months to get the eye when it has taken me 15+ years to get it.:D

i pretty much just test for Ca, alk, and S.G. on a regular basis. ph is done by monitor. i may look into that S.G. monitor.

i do not have a Ca reactor so i dose a Tbs of my make my Ca go up stuff ;) once a week. i run Kalk for top-off. try and do a 5g water change every week for traces.

G~
 

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Geoff said:
oh fine, make me feel dumb. it took you 11 months to get the eye when it has taken me 15+ years to get it.:D
Could be me, maybe I don't have the eye :( Please don't misunderstand me I claim no expertise. I just spend a lot of time staring at the corals I have and when they don't look right I know. And if something doesn't look right I test. The parameters you should be shooting for with water are available in many books. It's noting I have discovered I'm just reaping the benefits of someone else's research.

And in truth I have been keeping fish the better part of 30 years. I have had or bread just about everything from fish that come rivers from China to Discus. Granted fresh water fish are a whole different planet but basically the game is the same when it comes to health and water quality, the parameters just vary. My only real regret is I didn't have the courage to take up salt 20 years ago.

On the other hand in my brief career with SW I have made a ton of mistakes but like any other science if you watch, TAKE NOTES and pay attention you can't help but learn. Don't be deceived sadly I have killed a few beautiful animals thru sheer ignorance, impatience and stupidity.

Some examples, I had an ick break out. AHhhh ick rid yep reef safe no copper, still wiped out most of my pods. Had the ick on a hippo tang, what I learned about hippo tangs in the process is they are very very sensitive to water quality, believe it or not anytime I had a nitrate spike he got ick. Nitrates under control ick gone.

Added with edit..
BTW as a side note no pods, mandarin starved to death :( I blame this partly on the LFS who sold me the fish and knew since he sold me the stuff for the tank how young the tank was that I had no business keeping a mandrin in a 3 month old tank. Ultimately though the fault is mine for not resaerching the fish before making the purchase of what we all seem to forget or take for granted is a LIVE ANIMAL.

Skunk cleaner shrimp will when hungry enough eat fungi plate corals.

Any of you guys catch my anemone posts? Killed a blue carpet and another I'm ashamed to admit I don't remember what it was.

Clams Killed 2.

Had some fish get abducted by UFO's. Just flat out vanished, not stuck to a wall not in the lights checked every little corner nook and cranny, just gone. One was a six inch lunar wrasse. My guess is the six line forced it to jump or ran it to death and the crabs ate em. I have yet to find so much as a scale or a bone. Should I have read the very same fish book I now suggest to everyone, yep. Did I, nope.

I'm not proud of any of it. I'm embarrassed but it serves no one if I hide it. Most of my tank fatalities came strictly from water quality issues :( So yes I am a tad fanatical about testing and watching and water changes. But to me all this everything I do is a labor of love.
 

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What if you don't have an RO/DI unit conected to a drip system? What's the best way to buffer the water? I get water primarily from a friend of mine with a RO/DI, and just add it. I am using Biionic currenty. Should I buffer the top off water with Biionic or something else?
 

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I added a deltec calcium reactor recently becasue i was spending a small fortune on additives. In a 45gal tank i was added 4 times the recommended dose per gal of kent AB and topping up all evaporated water water with kalk and adding turbo calcium as well as an additive i cannot remember the name to bolster the dkh. Even then i would see serious drops in both on a regular basis. I remember adding an 8oz bottle of turbo calcium liquid in 3 days just to bring my calcium back up when i neglected to test for a week. I was amazed by this and had to keep asking my LFS to see if this was normal practice which he assured me was because of the frags i was growing on. Anyway it got to the stage where I was getting inbalances and the corals were showing their displeasure on a regular basis. The good thing was i discovered how to look for the "signs"
With the reactor set up i decided to fully automate by adding a ratz kalk stirrer on a peristaltic and float level.
Has it worked? Yes deffinately. I have never had a more stable tank. My monti cap grows like weed, my corraline is everywhere and my frags are great. I have tested parameters regularly and they look fine.
The funny thing is, i bought my calcium reactor a year before i installed it and was too scared to get the thing working due to worries over Co2 causing algae growth. So far there are no signs of any nuiasance algaes. I now test once a week . The only thing i am worried about is getting lazy and letting things slide as my tanks at my shop and i never have enough time for tank maintenance there. I have saved half an hour a day in maintenance but there is always something else to fill the time.
 

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Once upon a time I tested a lot and I found it led overcorrection in the tank and stress in my life :D I have a kalk reactor and a CAC03/C02 reactor pretty much dialed in so I test every 2 weeks or if something looks odd. In addition to testing for alk/ca I test stront and mg....pretty simple....I also do a lot of water changes :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So question?
At what point do you not get enough ALK and CA and need to move beyond the Kalk drip? How many corals does it take to overwhelm a tank to the point that you need to increase your Levels to the point of using a reactor and what kind of corals use up more?
 

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Buckwheat
There are alot of variables including rate of evaporation, growth rates of corals ( which is affected by other variables ) corraline coverage , target calcium points , which can vary depending on what you want to acheive e.g 380 seems to give slow coral growth without much corraline which i have heard is what some japanese reefers desire. Suffice it to say, I found kalk addition in my small tank was pretty much only of use to keep my corraline healthy. As soon as i added a couple small sps colonies I had to start adding 2 part which then became redundant when i added about half a dozen colonies and wanted to grow on frags. Im sure everbodies mileage varies but for me a reactor became essential very quickly indeed.

Edited for spelling as usual.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Seems like Stonies was the start! I'm around 430 or so steadily right now with just a drip but only have a few corals. Candy, Pipe organ, Finger Leather, yellow, bubble and striped xena! I'm wondering if suddenly I'll add one more coral and then ohoh need more suplementation?
 

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You will find the requirements will ramp up with sps. Buy a little frag, things may be fine but as that one frag grows....
But of course, you wont stop at one , that will just be the start :D
 

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I test for alk and cal about every two weeks. The problem I have with testing, is that I am shade blind and can't distinguish the color changes on many of the tests, I have to get my son to help:( .

I use a PH meter and can tell a great deal about my levels, and overall tank conditions, from this PH reading.

Kalk is used for top off. It is delivered through a kalk reactor hooked up to a Liter Meter. My alk levels stay real constant with the use of kalk, but I have to supplement the calcium about once every week of two.

I do around a 20% water change every 3 weeks, and like Mkelly stated, I believe these water changes to be the key for keeping parameters in line.

A refractometer and a swing arm are used for SG (actually I only use the refractometer about once every 6 months to make sure my swing arm is still accurate). I check SG about once every 2 weeks or so.

Toadfish said:
What if you don't have an RO/DI unit conected to a drip system? What's the best way to buffer the water? I get water primarily from a friend of mine with a RO/DI, and just add it. I am using Biionic currenty. Should I buffer the top off water with Biionic or something else?
You could always use kalk in your top off water, but Bionic is also a great product IMO.
Steve
 
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