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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought this might be a fun thing to document. I honestly don't know what will happen, I have switched methods before with instant success, and I've also had tank crashes because of it. Follow along and see what happens here!

The Problem:
Since setting up my 135 gallon SPS tank with a 40G frag tank in the fish room I've been using the Triton Core 7 line of supplements, this is basically a 3 part additive. The claim to fame of this system is that it adds all the minor trace and major elements back so you don't need to do water changes. It has been wildly successful for me, and for the first year the cost was about $200 which was reasonable for the ease of use and reliability of the system. The problem is that with growth I'm demanding allot more CA/ALK/Mag, and as of now I'm up to over $1000 per year for these additives alone, and the tank is still relatively young. In December I was dosing 70 ML of the ALK Part, and today (June) I'm dosing 140ML per day, double the amount. I don't think this will slow down, and I suspect I could easily be at $2000 per year in 6 months. All this to keep my ALK at 8.
Water resources Ecoregion White Light Product


I like Core 7, and I like adding the traces and the supplements which help Cheato growth, so I don't want to remove it entirely. I also like the PH Effect that Core 7 has, in fact for the first time in my life PH is doing great on this tank, so I'm not looking to go back to a CA reactor either.
Light Rectangle Slope Plot Font


I want to keep the complication and number of dosing pumps to a minimum so I'm not looking to add another 3 part if I can help it. For this reason I've chosen to try supplementing with Kalk to lower the necessary dose of Core 7 and offset cost some.

Now,.. I swore I'd never use Kalk again at least 4 times, but the benefits it has really make it ideal which is why I keep going back to it. This time I'm going to try and be a little smarter. We'll see if it works. Here are some of the problems I've had with Kalk in the past:
1. It's killed an entire tank - My 180 was wiped out when 40 gallons of Kalk was dumped in due to a stuck float valve.
2. I had it setup to saturate all makeup water, and due to that the amount of CA/ALK added would fluxuate with evaporation making my levels instable.
3. Using a Kalk Reactor I had no way to monitor when the Kalk was used up, and due to varying amounts of water running through it I couldn't even guess.
4. Using a Kalk reactor sometimes the tank would topoff when it was mixing which sent the slurry into the sump fowling pumps, sticking floats, and causing issues.

This time I'm going to do things the safe way and see how I do. Here is the plan:
Dosing:
I have freed up one of my Dose pumps for this purpose. I will dose a set quantity broken up over a 24 hour period, this will start slow and increase with time.

Mixing:
No reactors, at least not at first. I am going to mix pharmaceutical grade Kalk (food grade stuff has aluminum in it) with water at a rate of 2 tsp per gallon. I'm going to let this settle out and pour off the water into a 5G container which will be mostly sealed from air to keep it fully saturated. In the dosing container there will be a float for a low level alarm, and a rigid pickup tube which will be an inch off the bottom to be safe.

Safety:
The limited supply of Kalk is the first safety measure in case of out of control dosing, along with there not being slurry available because I'm pouring the water off after mixing. I have also setup PH text message alarms to alert me to a runaway doser situation, and I'm able to kill the doser remotely from my phone using Apex.

Here is the tank currently (or at least a couple months ago). I put in the new doser for my Acropower today to free up the dosing head for Kalk. Wish me luck!
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Okay,.. so now I need to dose Kalk somehow. There are a few requirements:
1. The doser must be accurate, and not dose too much too fast. (Parasitotic pumps are ideal for this)
2. The doser must be reliable. It's very likely I will be dosing a gallon a day for years, that puts allot of load on cheaper pumps.
3. I need a way to kill this pump if PH gets too high, and I need a way to kill it remotely.

The DOS by Neptune uses stepper motors, not brushed DC motors, and it is made for auto water changes pulling out gallons and gallons per day. Also replacement heads are relatively cheap and available if needed, plus it's easy to program, and easy to shut down. That is my ideal choice for this purpose.

But! I don't want to spend $330 plus tax for a project that may or may not work long term. So I wanted to free up one of the dosing heads I have. I'm dosing the Core 7 Alk/Mag/Ca with 3 heads, and the 4th is Acropower, that only doses 10ml per day. It is the perfect choice for this project. I still need to dose Acropower though, and I wanted to do something else with my NO3 dosing so I built this:
Electricity Gas Electrical supply Electrical wiring Electronic device

It is cheap and cheerful! Some of you might want to steal the idea for 2 part dosing actually. The timers on top are $18 for a two pack on amazon, and the Dosing Heads (I had one) but I think they were $6 each. Get the Kamoer ones, they are way better because they have the better tube,.. that's critical to long life. The one on the right I've had a few years, but it came with silicone tube and I replaced it. I used a 12V power supply from an old picture frame the screen failed in and I'm off to the races. If you don't have one of those you can get a universal powersupply under $20 from Amazon.

The timers have many modes, but I'm using "P6" which has the pumps off for an interval of 0-9999 seconds (I have it set to 7200 or two hours), then it has an ON intervol, which is how long it doeses. Since it's off for 2 hours I can safely assume it will dose 12 times per day, so all I have to do is take the dosing amount and multiply by the dose number. So if I have the right one on for 2 seconds, at about 0.5ml/second then I'm dosing 12 ml per day.

These things will take over my Acropower (10 ML per day) and my Nitrate (8 ML per day) dosing, and at those low levels they will last a very long time.

That gives me the DOS head for my Kalk.

Tonight I'm going to start running 500 ML/Day fresh water through it just to make sure everything is sealed up tight and tomorrow my Kalk arrives!

Whiskey
 

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DSR trace elements may be cheaper. I have no idea as I can not afford the test kits needed for Triton or DSR.
It would be nice if you could mix your own though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
DSR trace elements may be cheaper. I have no idea as I can not afford the test kits needed for Triton or DSR.
It would be nice if you could mix your own though.
DSR is an interesting thought, I'm not totally clear on how I would actually do that though. There seem to be allot of various bottles, it looks like Deltec is the only US distributor, and the instructions are mostly posted on a forum in another language.

With Triton I did do one mail in test after 6 months or so, but it came back spot on and I haven't done another one. They seem to have done a great job of making those solutions pretty close. Of course I also do water changes. If I'm getting all these bottles and trying to get it close myself I think there would be a steep learning curve.

Of course I may be way off base because I can't read the forum.

Whiskey
 

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I used to have a browser plug-in to translate websites. Should still be one around somewhere. I looked at it didn’t translate was really looking to see there were recipes for the additives but if there were they are gone now since he went commercial.
with DSR it looks like they recommend Salifert test kits and you do your own testing. All those test kits would break me before I got to the chemicals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah,.. The cost savings is my real target, and I have all the main test kits now, but I'm sure they are doing all the oddball ones I don't have. I'm interested in this, but I want to see more people doing it, and I want a better understanding of what it entails before I go down the DSR path.

For now though I think Kalk and Core 7 will be a good mix. Allot like some people would do Kalk with a CA reactor, the Kalk will add as much as it can given my evaporation rate, and after that Core 7 will make up the rest along with adding trace. I have kept tanks on just Kalk and CA reactor, or just 2 part using baking soda and CACL before so I'm sure this will be better than that was.

Long term, since I'm controlling my flow through I see making this easier. I can Tee off of my RO water for my topoff, and run that to this dosing pump, then I can run that through a Kalk Reactor. Then I know that 2 teaspoons = 1 gallon, and if I put 1.5 cups of Kalk in there, and I'm pushing 1 gallon per day though it then I know I need to replace the Kalk monthly.

But! One step at a time. The first task is to see if it's worth the hassle and for that I can simply mix 5 gallon batches.

Whiskey
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So,.. I might have underestimated how much Kalk is actually required. I cut my Triton dosing in half and I started adding 1000ml/day of Kalk to make up the difference, and it was obvious within an hour that ALK was dropping rapidly. I went from an Alk of 8.01 at 6:10pm to an Alk of 7.73 at 8:30, so I cranked up the dosing to 2000 ML/Day, and ALK dropped to 7.69 by 11:12pm, so I cranked it up to 3000 and ALK dropped to 7.65 by 12:19, and I cranked it up to 5000 ml/day and Alk came back to 7.79 by 8:48 AM.

Whew!

One thing is clear, a 5G dosing container will not allow me to take work trips so I may need a Kalk stirrer sooner than later, but it is working, and my topoff is still kicking in even with about 1.25 gallons of Kalk being added so I could conceivably do even more. Next we need a cost analysis because that's the whole point of this.

Whiskey
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cost Analysis:

I'm using half the Triton Core 7, that was costing $1000 per year, so right now I have a savings of $500. I don't have Kalk maxed out for my evaporation rate, but it's really close so let's say it is, and this is the max savings. As consumption increases I will need to increase the Core 7 dosage, but Kalk can't help any more than it already is (this isn't true, but we need long term evap rates to get closer).

I bought 4lbs of BRS Kalk for ~$35
44 grams makes 5 gallons of water, the package is 1800g, so I can make about 200 gallons of water with that package.
I'm dosing 1.5 gallons per day, so that means I can go about 133 days on $35.

There's allot of units in play here but hang with me.

365 days in a year divided by 133 is about 3 (ish) - and the cost is $35 so I'm paying $105 per year to add the Kalk.

That means this method is giving me a $395 savings per year, and there are bulk buying options for Kalk so I might be able to shave a bit more off that, but Kalk reacts with CO2 so buying too much at once might not be smart.

And that's not even talking about the PO4 benefit which might make my GFO unneeded.

There you have it.
Whiskey
 

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... :unsure: ...now my head hurts!:oops:
This is very important, and interesting stuff Whiskey.......BUT you're dealing with me. ;)

Keep the experiment going Pal......folks WILL benefit from you doing this.(y)
Hack
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
... :unsure: ...now my head hurts!:oops:
This is very important, and interesting stuff Whiskey.......BUT you're dealing with me. ;)

Keep the experiment going Pal......folks WILL benefit from you doing this.(y)
Hack
I really think so actually! I didn't see allot about this when searching around the internet, and I really didn't find allot of people supplementing Core 7 with Kalk to save cost. Lots of people do it with with CA reactors and 2 part, but not Triton for some reason. Hopefully I don't find out why. Ha!

Whiskey
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One thing that all this experiment has taught me is exactly how concentrated Core 7 is. I'm dosing a huge amount more Kalk than I expected, and it's not reasonable to continue mixing up water 5 gallons at a time, and more than that becomes a pain to lift.

The process is working though, it's saving a substantial amount of money, the corals appear unaffected, and the PH has not gone out of control or anything, so I decided to pick up a Kalk reactor. I ordered one that will easily go a month at my current dosing level between needing any toping off. By my calculations with 1.5 gallons per day going through the reactor and the media at full saturation 1.5 - 2 cups of Kalk will last a month, then I'll just have a monthly reminder to clean it out and refill. The savings will pay back more than this cost in the first year, and I prefer Capital costs over Operating costs any day.

Whiskey
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I've never had a Kalk reactor I didn't hate. I made one with a pump once, it was trash because the pumps would fail every 2 minutes, I had an Avast one which I hated because it was gravity fed and I had to have it up high to drip into my sump, but when I did that I couldn't service it because of space limitations. Plus with the stir bar it was extremally difficult to add Kalk without removing the entire thing. Then when I did remove the entire thing it was frustrating and leaked Kalk all over the carpet trying to wrangle it out. It would probably be better with my Sump Room, but I'm planning to use this for 4 years so I wanted something easier. That's how I landed on the Ice Cap Reactor 150 - It arrives in a couple days.
Key features:
Still gravity fed, but has a sealed top to keep CO2 from getting to the solution and keep it potent
Stirring happens from below with a Magnetic Stir bar, so there is nothing obstructing the top, and when you remove the top it doesn't have kalk powder falling off paddles onto the floor.
There is a little porthole in the top for adding Kalk
The chamber easily comes off the base for cleaning without any electronic parts to damage
It has a 6" chamber that is 25" tall and holds about 2 gallons which is good for saturating the lime water and mixing frequency.

I should be able to easily add enough kalk so that requires only monthly maintenance and probably more.

This weekend I scooted around some of my electronic parts on my controller board and made a little shelf for the reactor to sit on. This will ensure easy maintenance and keep it out of the way. I wouldn't have normally used Red Oak for a project like this, but that was a bunch of scrap pieces I had laying around so I glued them up and built this. That makes the shelf basically free because the scrap was trash.
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Whiskey
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
WAIT...... :unsure: ......I think I saw this before......

View attachment 244364
YES.....this was IT!
Hack
:ROFLMAO:

Only he did better cable management ;)

When I set out to create this controller board I had these dreams of perfect wires and everything, then I realized that I don't' want to cut zip ties every time I need to make a small change. Plus wires like the Salinity Probe, Flow Monitoring, PH Probe, ORP Probe etc can't be bundled with wires carrying AC power or they will pick up interference in some cases.

Next time I might do what I thought of at first and that is make the front panel hinged to put the wires behind,.. but I don't know, it works well like it is if you can get past the look.

Whiskey
 
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