LOW pH, LOW dk, HIGH Calcium; now what - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-19-2009, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
Exclamation LOW pH, LOW dk, HIGH Calcium; now what

Been a while since I was on the site. Took advice and slowed things down a bit. I have a 90 gallon Tank w 80 lbs of Live rock that I set up Jan. 22nd. Had a diatom bloom in early february. Lost some fish early on and took the slow route since then. I added a CUC (Turbo, Nassarus, Tonga snails, some hermit crabs) and now have in addition to this a Long Tentacle Anemone, Black Urchin, Maroon Clownfish, Yellow Tang, Marine Beta and two Blood shrimp plus a cleaner shrimp. Three powerheads on a wave strip (Moving about 900 gph) plus the pump for my filter in the sump w two chemical filter bags of Chem Pure + Chem Pure elite (540gph). A Coralife needlewheel protein skimmer (Upto 125gallons) and two UV filters total of 35w. Started adding soft corals (Actually added 1) and a clam. Readings today Temp 78, pH 8.0, dK 4.5, Ca 450, Amm 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0 SG 1.024

How should I deal w the low dKH and low pH with a normal (Or even high Calcium)? I have the two component Bionic, but last time I used it I think it did it incorrectly and killed some fish.
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-19-2009, 12:18 PM
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Great question. So many hobbyists get this wrong and cause more serious problems.

The 2 part BIonic product is designed to maintain the correct calcium and alkalinity levels, for aquariums which are already correct. Adding BIonic to this aquarium will not correct the problem. See this series of articles by Randy Holmes Farley as a refernce: Chemistry and the Aquarium. You really need to read everything by Farley you can get your hands on in reference to alkalinity to develop a deep understanding of what causes these issues. Fortunately, you don't have to be a chemist, you just have to know how to react to different test results.

In your particular case, adding a buffer will temporarily boost alkalinity, but will not be effective in maintaining the alkalinity levels. You have adequate calcium, but have a shortage in other areas that you are not testing. This is most likely magnesium, which you can test for and you can add directly to your aquarium. Many reefers test and dose magensium religously, just like they do calcium. My personal preference is to do a water change when I get low alkalnity and high calcium. The water change helps to replenish magensium, as well as other buffering ions, most notably borate.

In your particular case your DKH is very low. I would suggest doing a 10 gallon water change, which is more than I normally like to do in a single day. If it were me, I would do 5 gallons in the morning and then another 5 gallons later that day, because I think the livestock is less stressed with smaller changes. When you do the water change, also add a buffer. I recommend Kent Marine Super Buffer DKH. Give it a couple of days and retest. You should see an improvement in alkalinity. If the alkalinity is still low and calcium high, do another water change, adding buffer, waiting two days, and retest. Continue in this format until the alkalinity is between 8 to 12 DKH and the calcium is >420 ppm. When both readings are normal, you can go back to your daily additions of BIonic, at the proper dose to MAINTAIN the leves within this range.

Hope this helps.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-21-2009, 03:39 AM Thread Starter
What is the difference between Bioinc and the buffer? I did the partial water change today. Could this be an aeration problem. Thank you.
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-22-2009, 06:43 PM
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It is possible that aeration problems can contribute to CO2 buildup, gas exchange issues, and lowering of alkalinity. However, it is very very unlikely. This is NOT even remotely likely to be your problem.

The BIonic product is a 2 part supplement containing balanced buffers and calcium supplements. In your case, calcium does not need to be added. You could add only the buffering component of the BIonic product, but I personally prefer the SuperBuffer DKH product by Kent Marine, simply because I am comfortable with the product. I would dose Calcium and SuperBuffer as separate additives to the BIonic product for now. When everything is balanced, then BIonic will maintain that balance, which is the intention of the product.
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-22-2009, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
My local LFS didn't have the Kent marine buffer, so I purchased a Seachem buffer instead. I assume that by adding anything that acts as a buffer that I am at risk of having it bind Calcium and precipitate. What is the secret to finding a balance between raising the dK without lowering the calcium levels too much? I was under the impression that partial water changes were mainly to deal w Nitrate build up. If I am measuring Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate and the levels are 0, but the pH is low and the DkH is low I assume a partial water change will remove some of the organic/inorganic acids aiding my buffering additives to maintain the pH at a steady state. True? I did two 5 gallon water changes monday and another Wed. Started w the Buffer Wed and will retest tomorrow. I have a few soft corals, a LT Anemone, Black Spine Urchin, 3 shrimp and a bunch of snails. Why is Calcium so important? Thanks for all your help.
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