Ionic Balance?

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by HiFidelity, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Hi folks,

    We haven't had a nice technical topic for a while, definitely not one on chemistry.

    I have been trying to read up on Ionic Balance and whether the literature that I come across in random places across the web may have some merit or more snake oil.

    This all started when I began looking into the limitations of kalkwasser, I have only dosed kalkwasser for several years now and at this point my growth/uptake is outpacing the ability of my kalkwasser regiment to maintain a chemical balance. I ended up supplementing with 2-Part solution on top of the kalkwasser I'm currently dosing and this is when I actually took a closer look at the labels on my 2-part jugs. I noticed all the elements not found in kalkwasser:

    Part A ingredients
    Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Bromide, Strontium Chloride, Lithium Chloride, Rubidium Chloride, Nickel Chloride, Chromium Chloride, Zinc Chloride, Copper Chloride, Cesium Chloride, Iron Chloride, Manganese Chloride, Cobalt Chloride.

    Part B ingredients
    Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Sodium Metaborate, Sodium Fluoride, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Vanadate, Sodium Tungstate.

    This consequently lead me to look into ionic balance and how all these elements play a role so let's hypothetically say that you don't rely 100% on water changes to replenish all of your elements (I think this criteria represents the average reefer) and how the ionic balance plays out in such a system, can balance be achieved by dosing and what elements are considered essential (not to be confused with the product "essential elements") for maintaining a good balance for maximum coral growth.
  2. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Where's Randy Holmes Farley when you need him?
  3. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    He actually has written very little about this specific topic, at least from what I can gather.

    I've tried searching his articles and the only time he mentions "ionic balance" is in his article about magnesium which doesn't cover even a grain of the topic as a whole considering the number of elements that play a role. I was surprised because Randy has been my go-to resource on reef chemistry for years.


    I did find something

    unfortunately I need someone to dumb it down a little :(
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  4. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    I kinda feel like myself and a lot of people are hesitant to give their opinion on the subject because most of us do not fully understand every chemical's (especially trace elements) roles and relationships with each other in the reef tank.

    As for how those other chemicals in ESV B-Ionic play a role in our reef aquarium. I'm not sure. I don't understand how Rubidium, Cesium, and Cobalt are used in my reef tank.

    When you dose B-Ionic Calcium, magnesium chloride is a side ingredient. It's probably in very little amounts, not necessarily enough to affect your Magnesium levels.

    Maybe @jonmos75 can weigh in the subject.

    He hasn't done a water change in ages and is relying on calcium/alkalinity supplementing through Calcium reactor. I think he's dosing acropower for amino acids and maybe trace elements? This demonstrates what is necessary for a lo-water change system.

    I feel like you understand the relationships between magnesium, alkalinity, calcium, and pH so you must be asking about something else when you refer to Ionic Balance?
  5. Corallus

    Corallus BAR Sponsorship Coordinator

    Cool post!

    Thanks for the link to that article, one of the best I've seen so far (I've admittedly not read enough) about general salt water chemistry. My guess is, you're wanting to discuss both consumption of individual components by corals, and how those components interact with each other in the water? I was a little confused about some of the things he describes (particularly "soluble" CaCO3) - but you're right, there wasn't much discussion about the various components' interactions, past the couple common examples. I'd hazard a guess that's because for most of the "minor" components (lower natural concentrations), these interactions are pretty inconsequential - as long as they're not organically complexed (ie heavier metals). I'm not an expert in inorganic chemistry, but would be happy to (try to) talk about any of his points.

    I am very interested in uptake. I feel I'm dosing so much CaCl2 & Na2CO3 into my system, that other things must be being consumed (beyond Mg) to the point I'll either need to step up my water changes, or start adding "trace elements" mix to the system, which I'm on the fence with. My system consumes about 30ppm a day of Ca, doing the math on even my little 25 gal tank, it seems like kind of a lot.
  6. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    Mike @Enderturtle hit the nail on the head when he said "I kinda feel like myself and a lot of people are hesitant to give their opinion on the subject because most of us do not fully understand every chemical's (especially trace elements) roles and relationships with each other in the reef tank."

    Yet that being said it is true I have only done two water changes all year and each water change was 18g I do use a Calcium Reactor that gives me most of my trace elements that come from dissolving the coral skeletons in the Ca media, what a calcium reactor can't give you is the element that get released when the soft part of the coral dies and that is where trace elements come into play...I have recently started using S-Plus by Korallin, I have seen some improvements in polyp extensions and coloring in the corals, but I am not happy with I cant see any increase with my trace elements test kits...but I have a friend using the Red Seal 4part trace elements and he is seeing good results.

    Mike is correct I also dose Acropower for amino acids
  7. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Hi guys, glad to see I'm not completely alone in this situation. I too have understood the basic interactions between mg, ca alk & PH yet for the rest of the minerals in solution (minor or trace) I can't fully explain what's going on other than "my corals have uptake and in different quantities" as well as "I replenish via dosing & water changes" well the water change part is where I'm concerned, while dosing mg, ca & alk maintains those (primary) parameters (provided by kalkwasser in my case) what is the balance like with the others? bromide & manganese are two that I see most dosing systems/regiments focusing heavily on beyond ca alk & mg yet I can't measure the uptake and before I begin to think about dosing I am concerned about adding something I can't measure.

    So basically finding some clarity on the topic was my objective, my hope is to find some clear science that I can follow. Ionic Balance seemed to be the key in this issue because maintaining ionic balance has a direct correlation with salinity if maintained all needed elements are present for the coral. This part I'm not sure how to achieve other than trust my salt and begin dosing a few additional solutions (no decision made as of yet due to lack of understanding).

    One explanation of ionic balance (in layman's terms) that found but it doesn't quite feel sufficient;

    The fact that it's written by a retailer gives me cause for questioning the authenticity of what's being claimed.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015

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