Originally Posted by sergiotami
Whats the best way to monitor and maintain correct calcium and alkalinity levels?
There are a dozen answers to this question, so I will just tell you my method. I use Kent Marine Super Buffer DKH as a buffer to raise alkalinity and I use Kent Marine Liquid Calcium as a calcium additive.
I want alkalinity between 10 and 12 DKH. I want calcium at 420 to 460 ppm. When I test, there are 5 possible outcomes and solutions:
1) alkalinity low, calcium low = add buffer and calcium.
2) alkalinity low, calcium normal = partial water change. This should be rare. Typically a magnesium issue, sometimes borate. In any case, a water change is the easiest solution.
3) alkalinity normal, calcium low = add calcium.
4) alkalinity normal, calcium normal = do nothing.
I test every weekend. I want the outcome to be #4. I dose calcium daily. I dose buffer 2 times per week. If I am dosing correct, then my test results will give me normal readings. It takes time and slight adjustments to how much you dose and how frequently to achieve the #4 test results consistently. Your stocking level will make a difference, as will the quality of your protein skimmer and the amount of organics it removes.
If you are getting result #1 or #3 on a regular basis, then increase the frequency of your dosing of buffer or calcium, as indicated. If you are getting result #2 on a regular basis, then you probably need to consider a higher quality protein skimmer or reducing your stocking level, because the organic waste being produced by your system is not being removed effectively.
This is a very simple approach to a very complex topic, but it is one that most hobbyists can utilize to be successful.