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Bartman 04-21-2009 03:34 PM

Auto dosing equipment
I was looking at a litermeter 3. It has two hose connections. How do these units work and what would you attach to this device? 2L coke bottles filled with buffers and calcium? I am still really confused on dosing buffers for alk and calcium into my tank when I will need to. How do you guys go about this and how would this unit be substituted into that plan?

conger 04-21-2009 05:46 PM

lol booooo spaceman...

as far as dosing, sorry that I can't help Bartman with suggestion auto-dosing equipment (the title of this thread :P). I am curious though if someone else has solid suggestions, so I wanted to post so I could subscribe to this thread :-D

Independent of auto-dosing, I can explain how I think dosing should be performed... first, it depends on your water parameters (of course).. if you have high calcium, you probably don't need to dose more calcium (immediately.. it will fall of course, at which point you then dose again, which brings me to my next point). To start with, you test your water, then dose with supplements (over the course of a few days, if needed) to get your levels within desirable ranges. Once there, you can use a two-part additive such as B-Ionic for calcium and alkalinity... there are others, but I use B-Ionic personally. That will help maintain the levels where they are. However, upon testing, if you see Calcium, or Alk, or Magnesium start to drop, you supplement accordingly to bring it back up. Once you get into a routine, you'll have a good idea of how much and how often you need to dose for your particular system. I only test once a week to be sure my levels are good, even though I dose more often.

So I personally use B-Ionic daily, and I add Magensium (Kent Marine Tech M) and Calcium (Kent Marine Calcium Supplement) as needed as the levels drop. In fact I usually add it in the middle of the week without even testing. I do my water tests on the weekend, and make sure the levels are good. Also, during water changes, I add a marine pH buffer to the new water while it's mixing to lock it in at 8.3 before I add it to the tank. With this scheme, I've been able to keep my pH, Calcium, Alkalinity, and Magnesium very stable. There is also an Alkalinity buffer that you can use to raise your alkalinity if needed, but mine hasn't dropped yet.

So how that maps to an auto-dosing thing, I'm not sure. I prefer the hands-on approach, so I have full control of my water parameters (not that auto-dosing doesn't work, just a personal preference). I feel like if I rely on an auto-doser, something may go wrong and I wouldn't know until the weekend when I test my water, or otherwise when things start to die in the middle of the week :shock:. It may be an irrational fear though. I'd be willing to use something like a Calcium reactor to keep the calcium, alk, and pH stable, but that's pretty expensive, and I don't mind dosing manually (so it's not worth the $$$ to me yet to invest in a calcium reactor). I have a routine where I get home from work each day, and immediately dose the B-Ionic and any other supplement I'm going to add that day, very easy.

Bartman 04-21-2009 06:33 PM

Every day eh, that seems like a chore. Are your tanks heavily stocked with coral? Because I have tested my water for the past month and a half almost every day and things are VERY stable, but I don't have coral...

Ok so let me see if I get it. This is an example, not my tank, but lets say:

1) Cal is 350, alk is 7.
So I would dose separate containers of calcium kent and alk buffer OR add the B-ionic to bring them both up?

2) Now cal is up at 420 and alk is 9 (after step 1)
So do I now stick with B-ionic to keep them at 420 and 9 or do I wait for it to drop slightly and then add B-ionic?

Lastly, what if it is higher, my calcium is in and around 480 and my alk is around 10 or 11 depends. Will the corals decrease these numbers or do I need to add something to reduce it?

So B-ionic product just maintains calcium and alk and whatever numbers I choose? And the additives, the kent calcium and kent alk additives are just to CHANGE the numbers?

I'm pretty much thinking out loud here...

conger 04-21-2009 07:52 PM

well like I said, I do it right when I get home, and dosing the B-Ionic is the only thing I dose everyday. It only takes 2-3 minutes, and I like to look at my tanks and play with them anyways, so it's not much of a chore! I don't think if you missed some days here and there, it would make much of a difference... so its not like you have to do it every day or your tank is doomed lol. And I should add, I'm far from an expert here, I'm just commenting with my personal experience... someone else may come along and offer corrections to stuff I am saying (and I hope they do so I can learn too!)

What you said below is basically correct, B-Ionic and similar products are meant to keep levels where they are, not necessarily change them. Dosing the Calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium supplements will actually increase the levels if/when they drop. Note that, B-Ionic and similar are not perfect products, they don't keep it locked perfectly stable, they just help a bunch. Also, I'll use the term "supplement" in this post to refer to things other than B-Ionic, even though B-Ionic is technically a supplement too (anything you add to your water is a supplement)... just want to avoid confusion :-)

In your examples, for (1) you'd definitely use supplements to bring them up... 350 and 7 are both low for calcium and alkalinity. In (2) you are correct, at that point you could just use B-Ionic to keep them where they are, and monitor each week... when one or the other or both drops, you could supplement to bring them back up again. I personally like to keep alkalinity closer to 10-12, so even if you had 420 and 9, i'd still bring the alkalinity up a little bit. Your third example, 480 and 11, are pretty good... calcium may be a bit high, but yes corals and even fish and inverts (any livestock) will use calcium and decrease it. A heavily stocked tank will use calcium quicker than a lightly stocked tank.

I don't have my tank heavily stocked at all, corals or fish... only a few corals, and a few small fish. So I don't see much flux, but I still add calcium supplement at least once a week. Again, I don't test before I add it, but at the end of the week I test, and I've found my calcium levels to be very stable (so the mid-week dose helps).

Bartman 04-21-2009 08:04 PM

But you can overdose on calcium and alk buffers right? I mean if I added calcium now, it would go to high forsure.

What are the absolute optimal numbers for calcium and alk to be at, or is that an ongoing discussion? I have read calcium should be 380 to 420 and alk 10 to 12 as you said.

Now magenesium I still need to do a little more reading on...I understand it affects the other two, but I just don't know how and how important it is.

Anyways, I appreciate the help!! Great stuff..You have a picture of your set up?

Bartman 04-21-2009 08:10 PM

What about people talking about dosing "trace elements", such as strontium. Are these necessary, whats the deal?

conger 04-21-2009 08:43 PM

Trace elements, if you do infrequent water changes, then it might be useful to dose trace elements once in a while (one bottle I've seen says every two weeks). It just replinishes a whole bunch of stuff that exists in trace amounts in sea water, but gets used up over time in an aquarium. I don't know exactly what "elements" it includes. However, as long as you do frequent water changes, like once a week or even once every two weeks (like me), I don't think it's necessary, as the new salt mix replinishes them as well.

Strontium can be supplemented and dosed by itself. I personally don't, I think it's also the same as the trace elements, where as long as you're doing water changes, it stays OK. You shouldn't dose it if you aren't testing for it though. It might be more important if you have loads of corals in your tank (not sure on that though).

You can absolutely overdose calcium and alkalinity (as well as magnesium). I'm not sure what happens if you do, but I know you can. Ideal calcium levels are like you said, 380-450, I think higher in that range around 450 is ideal. Alkalinity is good between 8-12, I personally prefer it a bit higher around 10-12 (better pH buffering ability, plus some breathing room if it drops, its still in a good range). Magnesium should be between 1250 and 1350. I don't it's exact function, other than it and calcium are related... not sure if it helps keep calcium stable, or if it affects the ability for your livestock to properly use the calcium, but it's something like that.

conger 04-21-2009 08:52 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Here are some pics of my setup... I don't want to hijack your thread, but you asked! :-D still waiting for coralline to take over, until then I've got some ugly green rocks :oops:

Attachment 1793

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Kellsindell 04-22-2009 08:45 AM

Mag, alk, and Ca are all directly related. They effect they have is on PH. Your Mg needs to be 3xCa. If it's lower then that you should dose it... NOTE: you should only dose what you are testing for. IF you are are going to dose Strontium, boride and 60+ other misc of that sort, then test for it. Don't blind dose that only leads to disaster. Trace elements are important, but through normal water changes (as Conger said) they get replinished.

It takes a lot to OD your tank on Mg, dkh and Ca. If they are too high, then do a water change. If still too high, then do another, not a 50% but a 10% or 20%, you do this to keep things stable (in reefs stability is key).

As for the doser, people use dosers to add b-ionic or kalkwasser. They way it works (if i'm undestanding it correctly) is it uses 2 hoses. one for the output and one for the air input. It pushes air into the bottle and pushes the liquid out of it. It all works off of pressure.

onefish2fish 04-22-2009 10:21 AM

if there is no way to regulate how much your dosing or how often it doses IMO dont get it, its garbage.
IMO the dosers that gravity dose are just that. they basically drip whatever your dosing into the tank but you cant regulate how much or how often.

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