Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by Flagg37, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    Nov 29, 2015
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    I've got a couple questions. First, I've only been doing this a couple months but since the time my tank was cycled when ever I test the ph, amonia, and nitrites their always the same. Amonia and nitrites are always 0 and the ph is always 8.0 (I have two tests for ph. One says 8.0 and one 8.4. They are consistent and with in the acceptable range so I don't mess with it). Can I ever just stop testing for these? Maybe at least until I experience a problem?

    My second question is more just a poll to see when you guys do your water changes to bring down your nitrates? 5, 10, 20, 20+ppm?
  2. sjbro

    sjbro Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2015
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    * Disclaimer: I am not good a keeping up with the water testing, so I might be exception in the group.

    I do not ever test my DT for amonia and nitrite. I do test the QT after I start it and before adding livestock to it.
    I also do not test much the pH. I usually test it once a year or so. The fact that I am dosing Kalk and not 2-parts & the fact that I am running a sump with the light on the opposite time than DT light, makes me more confident that my tank's pH is stable. And in 9 years since I started my first reef I never had a problem that I could tie it to pH. For a few years I was using a pH probe on my ReefKeeper, I even replaced it a couple times at the recommended interval. It didn't register any pH problems.

    The only time I kept a really close eye on pH was during a QT hyposalinity treatment to get rid of ich.

    But it depends for each tank: the light cycle, if you have a sump or not, if you run a skimmer non-stop, etc. Here is a good article on pH: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2007-05/rhf/

    As for nitrates I would not let them go over 20 ppm if the tank has fish & starter/soft corals and I would not let them go over 10 ppm if the tank has SPS. I should also mention what I noticed & what other folks stated in articles or forums: a steep variation of the water parameters it is most times damaging to the livestock even if it is a variation towards the ideal value. So, for example, I would be careful not to do a 50+% WC to reduce the nitrates from 40 to 20 in one shot. Beside a steep variation of nitrates, the 50% WC could greatly affect other parameters at the same time, thus having a way bigger impact.

    Have you thought of adding a medium that would consume the nitrates such as macro-algae, mangroves, or anaerobic medium (there is some synthetic porous ceramic that is promoted as a good media for bio-filter on surface and anaerobic bacteria for nitrate reduction inside)?
  3. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2014
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    For me I like to test all types of elements...where others just test when there is a problem...but for me this is what I do :

    Salinity - Weekly with a refractometer (soon will be 24/7 with a salinity probe hooked up to my Apex)
    Temp - 24/7 Probe hooked up to my Apex
    pH - 24/7 Probe hooked up to my Apex (One for the tank & One for my Ca Reactor)
    ORP - 24/7 Probe hooked up to my Apex
    Ammonia - Once a month (waste of a test but just do it out of habit...lol)
    Nitrite - Once a month (waste of a test but just do it out of habit...lol)
    Nitrate - Weekly
    Calcium - Weekly (unless I am adjusting my Ca Reactor)
    Alkalinity - Weekly (unless I am adjusting my Ca Reactor)
    Phosphate - Weekly (unless when I am adjusting my dosing of Phosphat-E or NoPoX)
    Magnesium - Weekly
    Iron - Bi-weekly
    Potassium - Bi-weekly
    Iodine - Weekly
    Phosphorus - (Same as phosphate as this is how I get my PO4 values)...lol

    As for nitrates I have a bio-pellet reactor that reduces my PO4 & NO3 and will supplement with Phosphat-E to help with PO4 and in needed I will use NoPox to help with my Nitrates if they get to high...4.0...

    I have done two water changes in a year....lol:)
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
  4. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Apr 10, 2014
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    Understanding pH
    Your pH changes throughout the day and should measure anywhere from 7.9 to 8.5.
    At night my pH is 7.9. At the end of the day my pH is 8.3

    The reason why your pH changes is due to the amount of CO2 in your tank. During the day, CO2 is less because your corals are photosynthetisizing and using up the CO2.

    After your lights turn off, the CO2 in your tank builds up, dissociates and reacts with water to form Carbonic Acid which decreases your pH.

    More Info on pH in the Reef Aquarium

    I haven't tested my tank parameters in over 3 weeks but that is mainly because I understand my tank chemistry through testing. I know how much my alkalinity/caclium/magnesium will decrease. My tank is fairly under stocked and my skimmer does a great job so I'm not concerned about nitrate build up.

    Since you're new at this I recommend testing to understand how your tank chemistry behaves.

    What happens if you dont dose supplements or do water changes:
    1. Your Alkalinity, Calcium, and Magnesium levels will drop. (Your corals use it up, your alkalinity is used up to buffer pH changes)
    2. Your Nitrate and Phosphate will build up. (Your fish food and fish poop contribute to this)

    More Info on Reef Parameters and their Roles
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  5. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Apr 10, 2014
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    When I do test:

    Salinity I test pretty often. Whenever I do a waterchange I HAVE to know the salinity of my new water and my current tank salinity.
    Nitrate I rarely test unless I have abnormal algae issues.

    So mainly I test Salinity, Calcium, Alkalinity, and Magnesium.

    I do not test for trace elements (iron, strontium, iodide, etc) unless I notice abnormal coloration when my other parameters are right.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  6. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
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    I'm a little obsessive and maybe a little OCD.

    Salinity,Alk,Ca very 2-3 days.

    Ph,Temp is monitored by Apex.

    I just started testing for Fe, I2 and K. Right now it's every week. Mg is also weekly.

    I don't test for nitrates or phosphates (phosphorus) unless I start seeing algae blooms or something is obviously very wrong. I have over 60lbs of live rock n 40lbs of sand in a 40g so I should be fine. Plus I'm dosing NoPox (or what it would be if it came in a Red Sea bottle) so my nitrates/phosphates should be in check.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  7. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Aug 1, 2012
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    I generally don't check my water parameters but rather look at the tank visually of its state. I take notice of the corals, fish behavior, and any potential algae buildup. If anything seems off, I take action from there. The only sensor I currently have hooked up to the tank is a temperature sensor. I still have to hook up the pH and ORP sensors but haven't gotten around to it.
  8. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Mar 26, 2010
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    I wouldn't bother w any if those three tests in an established reef. Wanna test something? Check salinity and alk and ca.
    Enderturtle likes this.
  9. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Oct 15, 2014
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    I continuously monitor temp, pH, and ORP with my apex. The dashboard is one my computer and phones and I periodically check in throughout the day.

    I test salinity, Alk, Calc once a week. I do a 25% water change every two weeks and test salinity, Alk, Calc, Mag, and Phosphate then.

    I recently bought a Seachem ammonia badge, which seems like a nice emergency detector if something goes wrong. I threw one in my sump, but it'd be even more useful in a QT or other non-cycled tank. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000255R5G

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