Hard time maintaining params, need dosing advise

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by Nav, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Bit history to current state:
    • Tank's age is 3.5 months now
    • Started with Kent Reef Salt
    • Switched to Red Sea Coral Pro - 20% (10gal) weekly water changes. Its the 6th water change with this salt now...
    • Been dosing b-Ionic 15ml (started with 10ml) of Alk & Cal everyday (its been 2 months now)
    • I have 2 100ml Purigen packs & 11.74oz Chemipure Elite in my sump.
    Here's my tank log for any ref:




    Now to the concerns & questions:

    1. 3 weeks ago my Mag got very low (see chart) so I got Seachem Mag and brought it up to normal. Since then I've been following their instructions and adding few tsps of Mag salt to my weekly PWC's water. But why is Mag fluctuating? With Coral Pro too? How much & how frequently do you guys dose Mag? I want to keep it around 1400.

    2. 3 weeks ago my Cal also started going down (gradually, see chart) but I haven't yet dosed extra Cal to bring it to normal. Again, with Coral Pro too? From what I know, I should dose equal amounts of Cal & Alk, I want to find out the cause of Cal not being on par with Alk... My coral-stock has also been growing slowly so I guess they're using up more Cal to build up skeleton... but why only Cal? how is Alk doing good? If I bring Cal up and continue dosing equal Cal & Alk, I'm sure it'll drop again...

    3. I started using Salifert Phosphate test kit few weeks ago. All I've seen is crystal clear water (0 phosphate) since and never was able to say if my tank truly has no phosphate or if the test kit or if my eye is F*d up. Is there any other liquid with higher phosphate that I could test? Tap water also gave me 0. If nothing else, I know I got to find someone with another kit to compare... Fyi, my algae scrubber has been getting pretty good GHA so I doubt if its 0.

    4. I use Red Sea Pro test kit. Today I accidentally added 0.4ml of Mag reagent to the Alk reagent bottle. Is this ok?

    Fyi, only thing I added 3 weeks ago was Purigen, & Chemipure Elite 4 weeks ago. Thanks for any inputs...
  2. euod

    euod Supporting Member

    If you can recall whatever change or changes you did around July 7th or before that, you should be able to pinpoint the decline of your parameters

    You can get the new apex doser:) I do calcium reactor. With a small tank like yours, I am sure you can just change water without dosing and will do beautifully.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
    Nav likes this.
  3. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    @euod as mentioned in the last part, only ChemiPure & Purigen were added around that time.
  4. neuro

    neuro Webmaster


    I can only offer some info/help.

    - My Magnesium gets replaced during water changes with Instant Ocean. It stays @ 1300-1350. Although I do think mag is important, it isn't nearly as important as getting your Alk stable.

    - I do not dose Alk and Calcium equally. I dose Alk more than I dose Calcium. I think many here can attest to the fact that the do not dose equally (all the time). As soon as I started adding coral, I had to change my dosing regiment.

    - Here is a great article on how to address Alk and Calcium levels. The graphs are really helpful and so are the explanations on why Alk & Calc move in the direction they do when one of the two goes off balance:

    - In short, make sure your Alk levels are where they should be, and then you can play with Calcium.

    - I would toss out any contaminated test kit if you don't already have a base value to compare a contaminated test kit with. (Ie if it gives you the same result after the contamination, then it's probably OK to keep it)
    Nav likes this.
  5. Kensington Reefer

    Kensington Reefer Supporting Member

    Water changes will be your best friend!
  6. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Thanks Alfred. I'll look into the link you posted.

    Religiously doing 20% weekly WCs :(
  7. Kensington Reefer

    Kensington Reefer Supporting Member

    Increase the size and frequency until you reach a stable environment.
    New water should be "ideal"
    You can't change too much water
    Nav likes this.
  8. Kensington Reefer

    Kensington Reefer Supporting Member

    And stop the dosing and remove the other filter media.
    Change 30% every 7 days for the next 6 weeks
    Then revisit your dosing
    You should have no need for the chemi-pure or purigen (unless you have a large fish population)
  9. JAR

    JAR Supporting Member

  10. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    I did a 30% today... Will try for next few weeks.

    You guys think Purigen or ChemiPure could be the culprit? Purigen has really been helpful in keeping my Nitrates to a minimum...
  11. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    I have 5 fish out of which one clown is big (almost 3")
  12. brleong

    brleong Supporting Member

    That Hanna phosphate checker is looking better now isn't it ;).

    Mag is usually ok with water changes. Do you make sure your salt is very well mixed in the bag or bucket prior to making water? It could be that you have an uneven salt mix and it just needs to be tumbled around to get proper salt distribution for more consistent water change parameters.

    Also for dosing, as others have mentioned, I dose significantly more for alk than cal.

    Your phosphate could be very close to zero even with your scrubber going strong. Mine actually grows very strong at near zero phosphate.if you are feeding your tank it should grow. The phosphates and nitrates will get bound into the algae and your readings will not pick up what is in the algae.
  13. bluprntguy

    bluprntguy Webmaster

    The Red Sea Coral Salt Pro is likely the culprit and IMO isn't the best choice of salt for a nano-ish tank, especially if you are doing large water changes. The alkalinity is 12 in that salt mix. If your tank's alkalinity is anything south of 10 (around 7-8 is the alkalinity of natural seawater), every time that you do a water change your are creating an alkalinity spike, which would lead to instability elsewhere. I'd look for a salt that has an alkalinity closer to natural seawater (H2Oceans Magensium Plus or Brightwell NeoMarine both are closer). What is the alkalinity of your tank?

    Water from Hetch-Hetchy has phosphate level of .08 - .1. It should register on the Salfert test. Sounds like you bought a bum test. Hanna Checker is a good investment for this.

    I'd remove at least one of the purigen bags. I would only run it when needed. I'm also not a big fan of chemipure elite since it's formulated for freshwater and has resins in it that don't really help our reef tanks. I think you'd be better off with a reusable filter bag and some carbon and GFO that you fill yourself. That way you can adjust the dosage of each as needed. It also will save some cash in the long run.
    neuro likes this.
  14. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Brian, do u have the Hanna phosphate checker? If yes, I'd like to bring my water to get it tested once :)
  15. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    I switched to the expensive Coral Pro (and just got a second big bucket yesterday) after inputs from a lot of reefers & product reviews :(

    With 20% changes, my Alk has been between 8-9 (9.5 only yesterday since I did 30%).


    How do I store ChemiPure Elite? Soak in RO water or dry it up?
  16. bluprntguy

    bluprntguy Webmaster

    By the math: If your alkalinity is normally around 8, then doing a 20% water change with Red Sea Coral Salt Pro will result in an immediate .8 increase in alkalinity. If you did a 30% water change it would be a 1.2 increase in alkalinity! That's a substantial abrupt change in alkalinity and seems about right with what you are seeing. You want alkalinity to be as stable as possible and the RSCSP is working against you here.

    RSCSP is a good salt if you: 1) have a large tank and are doing smaller percentage water changes or 2) keeping your alkalinity elevated in the 10-12 range to increase SPS growth. For everyone else, there are probably better salt choices. (clarification on #2: I 'm not recommending that you try to keep your alk that high as it is harder to keep it stable. I'm just noting that some people do like higher alk levels in their tanks and therefore a salt with higher alk is a logical choice)

    If you are determined to use the RSCSP (or use it up), I'd go for much smaller water changes every couple of days and stop dosing alk as the salt mix has enough extra alk already.

    I'd just leave it in your tank for another week or two and then toss it when it's exhausted. It's not worth it to try to store it.
    Nav likes this.
  17. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    For small tanks like a 40G, agree with the others that key is finding a good salt mix, and doing lots of water changes.
    Spend time on that, not equipment.

    My opinion: Critical on small tanks is maintaining Alk stability. Otherwise you risk large PH swings.
    Everything else can almost be ignored. You really just check to make sure something
    is not going badly wrong.


    1) Do not be afraid to supplement a salt mix.
    Is your favorite one a bit low on Calcium, but otherwise great?
    Then ALWAYS add the exact same small amount when mixing the water.

    2) Have you considered water changes twice a week?
    If you get in a routine, two small changes can be easier than one larger one.
  18. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    So is IO Reef Crystals better for my tank? What other salt do you guys suggest for a 40gal? I'm disappointed that RSCP is not a good fit for me :( I've heard people with Nano tanks using RSCP...

    So a 0.8% increase in Alk is considered bad?

    Also 2 10% PWCs might not work for me (its my weekend thingy)
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
  19. brleong

    brleong Supporting Member

    you honestly have to check to see where you want your parameters, and see where your salt mix will measure at when its freshly mixed. you may also have to supplement your freshly mixed water. If your mix gives you 8 alk, but your tank lives at 12, then you want to add. Similarly with calcium. Having a smaller tank, you probably dont need to worry about calcium and mag if you change often.

    I use IO Reef Crystals, but I don't change my water very often due to my crazy work travel schedule, so I supplement these with dosing. I also dose for alk regularly in my ATO to keep it as stable as possible.
    Nav likes this.
  20. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    If I recall correctly, you want IO Instant Ocean (the purple one), not the IO Reef Crystals (the orange one).

    I was told the Reef Crystals is for Fish Only tanks, while Instant Ocean is for marine/reef.

    I use the Instant Ocean. Dr's Foster's and Smith usually has the best deal with free shipping.

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