View Full Version : Kalk for beginners: FYI: for stony corals

01/22/2010, 02:30 PM
Stonies are greedy little critters. Once they recover from transplant shock and start eating, they can drive your tank from a half a teaspoon a week calcium habit to a teaspoon a day and worse. This, naturally, can take over your life...especially since you need to keep your alk/cal/mg balanced and alk and cal added together make a snowstorm.

There's a trick to this that's cheap, easy, and reliable enough to let you take a vacation from this routine. It works well on any tank with an autotopoff and a reservoir, and particularly well for tanks between 40 gallons and 120 gallons, or larger tanks with a light coral load.

1. what you'll need: a package of Mrs. Wages' pickling lime, and a way to prop your topoff pump about 5" off the bottom of your topoff reservoir; plus---a lid for your topoff reservoir, and a strip of sponge to serve as a gasket (to prevent air getting to this mixture). Plus a bottle of Scheppe's bar soda, plain.
2. bring your levels of alk, cal, mg up to snuff by dosing the regular way.
3. now that your water is perfect, add approx 2 tsp Mrs. Wages per gallon of ro/di water in your topoff reservoir. Set your pump on that shelf (I use a circle of eggcrate jammed down into the reservoir.) Stir it once. That's all you need. What will dissolve will dissolve at once and stay dissolved; what's in excess will sink to the bottom and lie there until you add new ro/di. Then it will dissolve. That's why imprecision is not a great problem. Keep your pump from topping off until the water has had time to settle, usually about 4 hours. Lid the reservoir.
4. now just let topoff handle things. Test weekly. If your mg falls below 3x your calcium level, your calcium and alk will start to fall. If alk and cal are staying up, your mg is ok. I test mg every 3-4 weeks to be sure it's not falling. You can go on adding more ro/di and more lime indefinitely as long as your tests are good.
5. when things fall out of balance, resort to old-fashioned dosing of calcium, alk, mg to restore the balance, then set the kalk to run again as before.
[6. the bar soda is in case of a serious, totally white tank topoff accident. If it should happen, dose about a tablespoon of bar soda for every 30 gallons and test often. The od is usually harmless (I've done it 3x and never lost anything) but does spike ph, a spike which falls rapidly on its own. The bar soda helps it along, but don't overdo and don't panic. Just watch your tests and as long as it's trending down over several hours, it's good. Remember: nothing good happens fast in a tank; and if something bad has happened to the water, go slow on corrections. Let nature correct it as much as possible. Remember that in a topoff accident salinity is a more serious problem than any kalk overdose...and that has to correct VERY slowly.]

I use kalk out of a 32g Rubbermaid tub; I have to intervene every couple of weeks to add new kalk, wash it out a couple of times a year; and have to re-balance about once every 2-3 months. So it's pretty easy, quite safe. Just for gosh sakes CLIP your topoff hose to the tank when dripping kalk. If the thing ever flips out of the tank and delivers several gallons of kalkwater to your carpet, it is a NASTY mess to clean up. Also be careful about not breathing kalk dust when pouring it in: not friendly to the lungs.

01/22/2010, 11:48 PM
yet another great post.

01/23/2010, 01:25 AM
i might add that if your ATO water level is higher than your sump water level (like mine), then use a pvc pipe extending above the water level so that it can drip from above the ATO water level. This will prevent a siphon from occuring and dumping your ATO tank and all it's kalk into the sump (as happened to my lame butt).

If you need a pic of this, let me know.


01/23/2010, 04:56 AM
yet another great post.

+1 This is what I do on my tank and it works great...although I can only fit a 20 gallon tank as my top off under the stand which lasts about 6-7 days...wish I had 2 weeks worth of space!

01/23/2010, 10:45 AM
Yes, as with any topoff, be SURE you don't have a reverse siphon (back and forth siphoning) going on! {keep the topoff line from touching the water of your tank]

Here's a diagram of my rig.


I use a connector for locline jammed into the half-inch exit hose for the mj1200: this gives me a 1/4 inch outflow line, which does very well for a topoff line. It's that black heavy line exiting the pump, reducing to a smaller line.