unusually high precipitation on everything!

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by Beignet, May 30, 2014.

  1. Beignet

    Beignet Guest

    Dear BAR,

    I have a 60 gallon mixed reef with sump. Things have been going along just fine, but in the last 3 weeks, I've started to get a ton of white precipitation on all my pumps, coating the sump and even on the walls of the display tank. About a month ago, I started to dose 2 part much more heavily as the corals seemed to be responding to the season? or maybe my tank had finally really 'settled in' and were really drawing down Ca and Alk. My tank is about 1.5 years old. Before the transition, I was dosing about 75ml of BRS 2 part daily, but in the last month this increased to almost 400ml of each per day.

    I've asked a couple of LFS, and they seem to think there is some sort of ion imbalance, but the explanations have been 'cloudy' to say the least. I tried to find a good thread on this topic through BAR, but failed. If there is something here, please point me to it.

    My parameters have been:
    Mg at 1250-1400
    Ca 400-500
    Alk 7-9

    I've started to do a series of large water changes to battle this mysterious ion imbalance issue. I did 15 gallons yesterday, and I plan to continue this volume every day or other day for a bit unless you guys think this is a bad plan.

    I also ordered a Calcium reactor 3 weeks ago because i was tired of dosing. It hasn't arrived yet, but I'm going it will now also cure the imbalance issues and help me avoid heavy dosing.

    Any help or proper explanation would be greatly appreciated.

    Here's a couple pics of the tank. Most corals look pretty good although my rainbow monti and my scans are quite unhappy.

    Best wishes and thanks in advance for the help,


    Attached Files:

  2. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Sounds like ca I precipitating out of solution. What test kits do you use, an how old are they?
    I'd wonder about mg being too low and ca being too high. If mg is low ca cannot go into solution at supersaturated leeks like you want. 3:1 mg to ca is what you want IMO.
    I'm not familiar w the brs two part, but 400 ml seems like a crazy amount. If mg is too low ca won't go up no matter how much you add, maybe that's why you needed to ad more than normal?
  3. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Cut down the dosing amount & see what happens.

    In my experience I couldn't get things to balance out w/ 2-part dosing, I kept getting low Alk & high Ca so I switched to kalkwasser and since then Ca is still high but everything is balanced. My kalk is added to top off water and my readings on average are 10 ALK (-/+ 1), PH 8.3-8.4, CA 480-500, Mg 1300.
    So basically everything in my tank is on the high side of the range, I do this on purpose since my corals respond to it in better growth and polyp extension, also I've had a paranoia of shrimp dying so I meticulously maintain 10+ Alk.

    Just my experience, hope you find some of this info helpful.
  4. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    wow, 400ml a day? I'm at ~44 mL a day. And I'm around 460-480 in Calcium.

    I also have a 60 gallon w/15 gallon sump, heavily stocked. I bet you're running through your BRS calcium really quickly!

    I would definitely double check your test kits...
  5. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    How and where do you dose?
    A common issue is to dose rather fast, in a small sump with low flow.
    What happens is that you can get localized calcium levels that are VERY high.
    It precipitates out immediately, and spreads to system.

    That is a pretty wide range on Mg. It should be pretty stable, only changing
    with large water changes.

    My opinion : Above + a bit low magnesium + a bit high calcium.
  6. Beignet

    Beignet Guest

    Thanks everyone.

    My magnesium ranges from 1400 down to 1250 in a week or so. I do a water change and adjust it back up to 1400.

    I tested all my test kits against each other today. None are expired. I have a set of Red Sea Mg, Ca, and Alk in use and another brand new set. I have an in use set of API Ca and Alk and an unopened set. I typically use API to watch things daily because they are fast. Any time I open a new set, I calibrate them against the Red Sea tests and I also test with the REd Sea kits during my weekly tank maintenance. I don't think my kits have been steering me wrong in a huge way- although my REd SEa Mg kits were off by 100 units to one another and my CA kits are off by around 50 units. There is also a visual color difference in the KH reagent. The new solution is bright red and the opened solution is orange. The kit is in a black box and I wonder if the reagents are photosensitive. I didn't notice anything about this in the literature, and I'm not sure it matters, but it is an obvious observation.

    Here are the data:
    Mg 1300 (open kit); 1200 (new kit)
    Red Sea KH 6.3 (open kit); 6.6 (new kit)
    API KH 7 (open kit); 7 (new kit)
    Red Sea CA 335 (open kit); 345 (new kit)
    API CA 400 (open kit); 380 (new kit)

    Since my daily dosing has been based primarily on the API kits, that should have been leading me to under dose not over dose and that wouldn't explain my ppt issues.

    I don't have fully automated dosing. I use to dose manually in a high flow area of the sump, but when the doses started to increase I was aware of introducing too much of a solution at a time, in one location, resulting in regional ppt, large changes in water chemistry etc. So, I set up a peristaltic pump that I had in the lab, poured my daily doses into old bourbon bottles and dripped them into the tank. The only other thing I did was to top up the dosing bottles with RODI to dilute the solutions a bit so they were introduced even slower than the lowest setting on the pump dosing full strength solution would give. I didn't think this would hurt anything, but maybe. The pump doses at 5ml per minute or so.

    Also, at the time I started to notice that my doses were increasing, I decide to try kalk in my top off water for the first time. I did this, using the peristaltic pump method described above for a week or so (the volume per day was about 0.5 gallons saturated Kalk). It didn't seem to be making much difference, the ppt started, so I stopped doing this. thinking back on it, the kalk i was using never seemed to settle and get clear. it was more clear than when first mixed though so i went with that. when i stopped using the kalk, i set the jug to the side for a week and now it's very clear. any chance i really screwed up adding some unsettled Kalk.

    Other than all that, I'm out of ideas. Thanks for the help and I am still curious about this mysterious 'imbalance' notion. thoughts?

    Thanks so much,
  7. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    What is your PH?

    Everything seems a bit low, which makes precipitate pretty surprising if you are dosing well.

    BUT: I really think you have one of those "Changing too many things at once" problems.
    It makes it impossible to really figure out what is going wrong.
    That Kalk experiment is slightly suspicious.

    My opinion: Only do simple dosing for a while. Test often. No changes. See what happens.
  8. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    Totally agree with rygh.

    You mentioned you diluted the solution in order to dose low. That would totally explain why you're dosing so much.

    It might be good to stick to one regiment, and keep a strict dosing regiment and solution. I think that's the only way to help narrow things down. I use the BRS calculator, and it gave me the exact amount that I needed to hit the levels I needed.

    I think you have time to work with since nothing is dying.
  9. Beignet

    Beignet Guest

    I measured out the appropriate dose before diluting. The dilution would only change the amount dosed per time, but the total put into the tank would not differ. Thus, that doesn't explain my issues - Thanks for thinking of this though.
  10. Beignet

    Beignet Guest

    Agree - although my rainbow monti is near full bleach and 2 of my 3 acans (that never really took off anyways) are almost fully recessed.
  11. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    Looks like i'm 2 strikes into a 3rd. Did not realize your rainbow monti is near full bleach.

    When you mentioned you were dosing at 400 mL, you didn't mention it was diluted so I assumed you were dosing it at the recommended saturation. You're right, the total you're putting in won't matter as long as you've finished dosing the entire amount, but you also didn't mention whether or not you finished dosing the entire solution; but that's a rather moot point since even with a diluted solution you shouldn't be getting the precip in the tank even at 400 mL a day.

    I wonder now if it is some other kind of precip that's going on, or maybe the precip isn't really precip but something else?
  12. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    It is quite possible chemistry is OK now, and the corals are just dying from your earlier problems.
    There can be a delay.
    If so, very little you can do. Just keep things stable, and keep doing lots of water changes.
    Don't over-compensate!
    Also, don't remove dead corals immediately. Some very dead-looking corals can surprise you and come back.
  13. Beignet

    Beignet Guest

    Thanks everyone. I'm going to stay the course with more frequent water changes and go back to a more reasonable dosing routine. No Kalk. I'll stay on top of the monitoring and keep you all up to date.

    I appreciate the help!!

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