Bulk additives (Alk, Cal, Mag)

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by Nav, Jun 7, 2015.

  1. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    When I got into the hobby, I started with Bionic 2 part and transitioned to BRS $50 2-part package that lasted pretty long. With recent switch in salts (from RSCP to IO-RC) & tests I've had to up my daily 2 part dosing and burning it much faster...

    What I like in BRS is its all pre-measured and simply mixing a packet into a gallon of water gives the same solution as any other 2-part in the market.

    I know a lot of you mix your own 2 part and wanted to find out a little more specifics? I'm bad at this so in layman's words, what do I buy? where? how much of that powder do I mix to get a gallon of 2-part same as BRS or any other 2-parts...

  2. RavenSF

    RavenSF Supporting Member

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  3. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    I buy mine from Leslie's pool supply.

    Calcium chloride (Hardness plus)
    Soda ash (labeled as is)

    It's cheaper, and comes in many sizes from a couple pounds to buckets. I mix per Randy's recipe, 2-3/4 cups or so per gallon. I go for mixing a bit heavier, and I decant only the clear liquids into my dosing containers, usually a day or two after mixing. Toss the precipitates.

    I have used these for over 6 years.
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  4. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Perfect! Just making sure these are the ones..

    Calcium - Is this "calcium chloride dihydrate" or "monohydrate calcium chloride"? Is this same as Dowflake 77-80% that Randy suggests?

    Alk - This one I don't need to cook right? (like Randy suggests for baking soda)

    What do you do for Mag?

  5. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    You know, I did a lot of reading when I started dosing this stuff, but I've forgotten exactly which recipe and what exact formula it is. I just know how to mix it and that it works. Fwiw I think this is helpful:


    Take everything on forums with a grain of reef salt, I'd ask to see the msds when you go in to buy, and compare it with other products. In fact, I probably should review my dosing regimen myself since I just had an sps wipeout. I don't think it's related, but since I can't remember which recipe I'm using it's obvious that I've gotten complacent and just dose on autopilot. Maybe it is related, I'm sure the fact that my dosing pump was stripped out and under dosing wasn't helpful.

    Also, no you do not need to bake "soda ash" and it should mix the same as soda ash from another place.

    I do not dose magnesium anymore. In fact, I just bought new heads for my doser when the old ones stripped out and I only bought two. The third slot is empty and I couldn't justify the expense.

    However, I do large water changes, as often as I can find time. Your mileage may vary with different maintenance practices and bioload.
    Nav and Enderturtle like this.
  6. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Thanks for the detailed response anathema :)
  7. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    From the link you posted, one of the member uses 20% less for the pellets so maybe its monohydrate calcium chloride...
  8. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    I have always considered the goal to be saturation. Once you reach the point where it precipitates out, i seem to get fairly consistent results from batch to batch. That's my thinking behind adding a bit more solids to each batch.

    Ime it's easier to deal with a saturated batch that wastes a little precipitate (that might have impurities anyway) than to try to mix it "perfectly" and possibly not reach saturation with every batch. Since we now use dosers in the hobby, it's usually easy to get a consistent amount of liquid input each day, so it's nice to be able to mix saturated batches so you can keep the same dosage from batch to batch.

    Unless your coral grows...

    Also, when I stopped dosing mag I was down to 5ml a day. In comparison I was dosing ~80 ml a day of ca/alk. I never saw much change with mag dosing, but I'm not advocating against it.
  9. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    I'm trying to figure out exactly which calcium chloride it is myself. It does get quite hot when I mix it, I have to shake the jug so it doesn't melt the bottom out.

    I do recall that it used to say "calcium chloride" on the buckets, but they redesigned them and now it's just "hardness plus."
    Nav likes this.
  10. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    Should be anhydrous calcium chloride from what I read. In any case, it works.
  11. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Nav asked me to chime in with my dosing regimen and we've been very low tech and only more DIY as we scale our new tank up over time.

    I mix arm & hammer baking soda with RODI to produce an alk solution. When I was dosing adhoc I would measure the baking soda dry and just add water until it easily dissolved, then slowly drip that into my tank. I've been dosing Kent Calcium from the 64oz bottles, since we don't have to add too much calc vs alk.

    Now that our dosing pump is setup, I plumbed one pump right into a Kent Calcium bottle and dispense 40ml/day over 4 intervals. At this rate, I use about one bottle every few months.

    For Alk I've mixed a weak solution of 1 tsp baking soda / 100ml of water. The RHF DIY Recipe #2 was about 15 tsp/liter and I'm at 10. I chose this ratio because it dissolves easily and maps the amount of solution to amount of dry baking soda easily. I dose 120ml of this alk solution each day, over 12 intervals.

    I use unbaked Arm & Hammer baking soda because our pH is on the higher side but very stable. We run between 8.3 to 8.4 on 24 hour cycle. RHF suggested using pre-baked baking soda for normal/low pH systems where you want to remove the slight pH lowering of the additive.

    This is currently keeping our alk at 9-10dkh and calc at 440ppm.

    I may need to hook up a magnesium dosing pump as well, but I'm out of non-broken dosing heads on the DP-4. I'm currently dosing Tech M once a week or so to keep it at 1600-1800. We've had a big bloom of coralline over the last few months which seems to be sucking up the Mag much more quickly.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
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  12. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    I was looking again into Randy's recipe and bit confused with the Calcium between #1 & #2. I understand that #1 has 37,000ppm in Calcium vs #2 is 18,500ppm. Can someone explain when to use #1 vs #2? I looked in BRS and their mix gives 37,000ppm...
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  13. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    They're virtually identical except #2 is simply half the mixture per water ratio, so you'd add twice as much.

    For me when I did a fully saturated alkalinity supplement I'd notice precipitation as soon as it hit the water, so I reduced to a half strength mixture and all was good.

    Also reading through the old posts, the Hardness plus from Leslie's Pool is closer to Peladow/Kent Turbo stuff, i.e. the water has been drained out of it so it's a more concentrated version.
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  14. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    I ended up buying Cal & Alk from BRS (looked like exactly the same pricing between BRS & Leslie). Alfred is getting me cheap Mag :)
  15. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    FWIW, I use about half ratio. It mixes better and stays in solution better.
    Plus, I round off heavily to make it easy to mix.
    1 Box Baking Soda to 1.5 gallons of water.
    1 Cup BRS Calcium to 1.5 gallons of water.
    I then tweaked my dosers to match that.

    Exact mix ratio does not matter, what matters it to make it repeatable, so dosage remains the same.

    For Mg, I add that to my water change water before I mix salt. Never dose it.
    Nav likes this.
  16. MolaMola

    MolaMola Supporting Member

    Question about maintaining alkalinity. Have not started this in classroom tank because we have no corals yet and also I just haven't gotten around to it. Was thinking 2-part could be the way to go and I have plenty of helpers all day to dose it in parts if that would be best. However, how long can I go without adding any, such as weekends and holiday breaks? In the past I dripped kalk low-tech style, but switched to 2-part added all at once because it was easier. Suggestions?
  17. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    I would be hesitant to let it go a full weekend w no dosing. Would really look into a dosing pump. Brs ones are cheap and work fine w a timer.
  18. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    I think with dosing, alk is the only one that needs to be dosed with any urgency. You can probably leave calcium and mag for a full week and you'll be fine.
    It really depends on your setup and how much coral you're growing and the type you're planning to keep. If your alk isn't swinging by more than 1 over the weekend (also plan for 3 days weekends/holidays), I think you might able to get away with not using a dosing pump.
    Another consideration is your ATO. My tank goes through a lot of evaporation per day which can change the salinity quite a bit.

    One option to kill 2 birds with 1 stone is to add alk to your top off water from the ATO (small amount), It's not super accurate but it'll get you by without having to buy a lot of equipment. And when the time comes, you can always buy a dosing pump then use the ATO as a pure top off.
  19. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Iirc, @MolaMola has a Neptune Apex. If that is correct, BRS dosers x2 would be the most economical and simplest way to do a consistent dosing regiment.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  20. MolaMola

    MolaMola Supporting Member

    Hmm. Maybe I better seriously look into dosing. Didn't want to go that route but then again I thought I didn't want an aquacontroller and ATO and I love them both. I have a possible funding opportunity later this month and I think the selection committee could find stability for an aquarium appealing, so maybe dosers. Right now I have almost no corals and am not minding alk. Time to start.
    anathema and Coral reefer like this.

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