View Full Version : I'm obviously doing something wrong (Warning.. Book)

12/27/2011, 09:18 PM
Let me start off by saying that I have been nothing but FOWLR for the whole three years I have had a tank. I am starting to dabble in reefs so I set up a 60 gal tank in February of this year. I used some rock and sand from my already set up tank so the cycle went fairly quick. I added one of my clowns from the old tank so it wasn't just an empty tank.

I set it up with a 15 gal sump, a Coralife Super Skimmer, ATO, and I added a new Apex controller.

In April when I added the fish everything was great. My readings were great. A couple months went by and still everything was good. I got a pH meter with the Apex and it was reading 7.9-8.2. Calcium was about 450 ppm and Alk was 7.7 kH. Salt stays steady at 1.025, Nitrate and Nitrite's undetectable.

During this time I did a 20% water change a month. I know not the best but it was working from April till about November. 7 months everything was pretty good. And then it went down hill about four weeks ago.

I hadn't been testing it like I should have just occasionally checking salt and I could see temp and pH on my monitor and temp was good but little by little I noticed pH dropping off. I was gone for a week and a half and I come back and my pH is at 5.8!!!!! (I re calibrated my probe and it's reading correctly) The rest of the readings go something like this: Temp is steady, salt is still at 1.025, 0 Nitrates/Nitrites, Calcium is almost undetectable 200 ppm and Alkalinity is so high it doesn't show up on the test kit, Salifert.

I have done more reading in the past two weeks on reef chemistry then I've done reading in the last 5 years. I have been dosing for the past three weeks B-ionic 2 part and I have noticed no change, not even slightly.

I am lost. I've never once had a problem with my FOWLR and my empty reef tank was doing so well. I need help. Any help. Do I continue to two part dose? I was thinking about Kalk but I was told that keeps your Alk and Calc stable not raise Calc and lower Alk... I am lost

12/27/2011, 10:00 PM
Kalkwasser is a calcium and alkalinity supplement, but it's very dilute and high in pH, so it's very difficult to raise the tank's levels very much in any short time frame using it. In fact, it's dilute enough that some tanks don't evaporate enough water to use only kalkwasser to keep up the calcium and alkalinity levels.

I would dose the calcium level up with some calcium chloride, and probably do some large (10% or so) water changes to fix the alkalinity issue. I'd get a second opinion on the test kits before doing anything drastic, though. Failed kits and other measurement problems are very common. You can use two syringes with the Salifert kit to read the higher values. Just add the two results together.

The most common cause of high alkalinity is the use of pH buffers, which all add alkalinity, despite claims to the contrary.

12/28/2011, 05:27 AM
How does the live stock look? Any coral?


12/28/2011, 07:51 AM
I bet the pH reading is inaccurate. It could be some sort of electrical interference with the pH probe. A pH of lower than 7 is acidic, and as low as you mention if accurate, your rock would start fizzing and dissolving. You might try a chemical pH test and see what those results are. You could also try relocating your pH probe to see if that helps, or possibly use the probe in a large cupful of water separate from the tank to see how that reads. You may be able to take a water sample to your LFS and they can check your pH. JMTC & GL!

12/28/2011, 08:00 AM
Just noticed you are in Indy. I believe the local Uncle Bill's pet stores will test your water for a small fee. I would give them a call to see what they offer, and take a sample there for testing if possible.

12/28/2011, 10:16 AM
I would agree with the above comments that your pH reading is probably off as that is too acidic and livestock would not tolerate those levels. Since it seems you have large changes in parameters, I would suggest doing lots of water changes with a good RO/DI source and good quality salt mix. I would rather change out tank water with good water and avoid dumping in lots of chemicals. How is the livestock doing? Any corals? Time for a new pH probe?

12/28/2011, 01:18 PM
my pH is at 5.8!!!!! (I re calibrated my probe and it's reading correctly)

I can assure you it is not. You have a bad probe.

At a pH of 5.8, the rock would be fizzing. There would be no doubt about that one.

12/28/2011, 04:44 PM
Well, I will have to try moving the pH probe when I get back home. My wife and I just had a baby like two hours ago!! :) As far as livestock - no corals. I have three damsels, a perc clown, and a brittle starfish. All are doing well.

I will continue to do water changes and then I like the idea of testing the pH probe on a glass of water. So I will try that and will report back.

Thank you all for the help!

12/28/2011, 07:41 PM
You're welcome! Congratulations!

12/31/2011, 11:59 PM
Grats on your new little one. Did you get this sorted out?

01/01/2012, 06:35 AM
Congrats on the new reefer in the family!