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View Full Version : Dosing Preference on Larger Tanks?


d2mini
06/23/2012, 09:22 AM
My new tank is near 200g and then with my rubbermaid stock tanks I'm looking at a total water volume up near 350-400g. I was using 2-Part on my old tank, being dosed via brs dosing pumps controlled by timers on my Reef Keeper. This worked fine, but wondering if there is a better solution for my new larger tank.
What would your ideal setup be for keeping the big 3 at consistent and proper levels? Ultimately I'm looking for precision, safety, consistency, ease of use (set and forget, less fiddling/guessing/adjusting), and acceptable long-term running costs. I don't mind spending the money upfront to achieve this.

TIA!

Andrew D
06/23/2012, 08:54 PM
I have close to the same volume and recently switched from b ionic to a calc reactor. It takes a bit of time to tweak but I'm amazed at how easy and inexpensive It is to maintain. I still check Alk every few days and calcium and mag Every week and although ive had to adjust the efluent flow its rare that I need to add any supplements. Highly Recommend it.

rwb500
06/23/2012, 10:14 PM
yes, calcium reactor is the obvious choice for you.

tmz
06/23/2012, 10:41 PM
I use a still kalk( caclium hydroxide/limewater ) reservoir .It meets the overwhelming majority of need for calcium and alkalinity on the 600gallon sps dominant system. It's a brute garbage can filled with ro/di water .Caclium hydroxide at maximum saturation ( 2 teaspoons per gallon) is stirred in with a length of pvc pipe for about 30 seconds. Then it sits for 2 hours to settle . The perisitaltic pump is turned on . The input tube for the pump is kept a few inches off the bottom to avoid dosing the slurry. Only clear limewater is dosed. The pump I use is a liter meter 3. The amount of limewater to be dosed is set on the pump's controller to match estimated top off needs for 24 hours. In my case it's 18 liters . The liter meter then breaks that dose into 150 equal increments over 24 hours. The limewater is delivered to the sump near the skimmer intake in a very high flow area. When dosing limewater it's important to spread the dose out over as long a period of time as practical to avoid ph spikes. There are other pumps and timers that can be used as the liter meter is pricey.

In a lidded garbage can or other container , the limewater unstirred can hold t's strength for weeks or longer.

I used a calcium reactor along with it for a couple of years but had difficulty with it. Now, I use a little baking soda and calcium chloride to make up any shortfall . I don't bother to automate this since dosing is very small and infrequent ,perhaps a tablespoon per week.

Alex T.
06/23/2012, 11:05 PM
Right now I'm using a Precision Marine KR60 Kalkreactor for my SPS dominated 195 with roughly 40 gallon sump. It's been great at keeping up with close to 20 or so frags and a medium sized Derasa clam. That being said, I know the day will come (hopefully sooner) when limewater will simply not be enough to keep up with demand.

I have a dual chamber MRC calcium reactor ready in the wings to go online when that day comes. I think that on smaller, SPS dominated tanks, 2 part dosing is the way to go. When your SPS start growing in a larger tank, it gets increasingly expensive to get things stable and supplemented, and over the long term a calcium reactor makes more economical sense. If you just have a few SPS with LPS and softees on the sandbed then you may be able to get by with just kalkwasser and water changes...maybe even speed up evaporation with a fan pointed at the water in your sump so that you can add more limewater.

tmz
06/23/2012, 11:50 PM
I have hundreds of growing sps with high growth and limewater does very well with less than 1% evaporation and a very small amount of supplementation.

Alex T.
06/24/2012, 11:25 AM
This is good to hear. I would love to stick with limewater only in my tank, but don't know if a tank with SPS and clams will be able to be sustained long term. A few of questions for you:

1. Do you supersaturate your kalk with vinegar?
2. Are you using a kalk reactor or still reservoir?
3. How do you supplement magnesium when it starts to deplete?

tmz
06/24/2012, 11:23 PM
This is good to hear. I would love to stick with limewater only in my tank, but don't know if a tank with SPS and clams will be able to be sustained long term. A few of questions for you:

1. Do you supersaturate your kalk with vinegar?
2. Are you using a kalk reactor or still reservoir?
3. How do you supplement magnesium when it starts to deplete?

1.No, I prefer to dose organic carbon ( vodka and vinegar in my case separately). I use 2 teaspoons per gallon with a little extra on the bottom.
2.still reservoir(brute garbage can) with a peristaltic pump( liter meter 3). The draw tube is place several inches off the bottom to avoid dosing the slurry.
3. Mag chloride and mag sulfate. I do 1% daily water changes with a high mag salt mix so almost never need to dose it. Less than once per year for a 50 to 100ppm bump.

Details on the mixed reef sps heavy system with a lage maxima grown from a 2 incher are here:

November Tank of the Month (http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2092232)

you can see the growth with these pictures taken 6 months later:

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2174523&highlight=puddle+pictures

I ran a CACO3( calcium reactor) along with limewater dosing for several years before retiring it to the shelf abut 3.5 years ago. It seemedto be ok but never kept up without the kalk. I didn't like the drop in ph nor the fines and clogs that occurred from time to time.I worried about impurities in the media dissolving after several bouts of stn and other coral issues . So I finally pulled it.
I have not had any significant coral problems since . I thought the kalk would be insufficient but was pleasantly surprised when it met the need with just a tweak now and then with a little baked baking soda and calcium chloride. IMO, it's important to be consistent with kalk ,spread out the dose over as long a period of time as practical and dose just the clear limewater. The liter meter takes the 24 hour preset dose( calculated to match top off; 18 liters pr day in my case) and breaks it up into 150 increments roughly ten minutes apart. Other pump and timer combinations cna also work very well at lower cost.

I like the self purifying quality of limewater and the ph boost. I will always start with it and then if necessary add some 2 part or a calcium reactor but stongly prefer kalk for the heavy lifting. There was a thread a year or so ago where a number of other folks noted sps success with only kalk. I can't find it right now.

Anyway, it's an option worht considering. Good luck

Steve175
06/25/2012, 12:22 AM
I too switched from 3 part (I was dosing 6 liters per day of each) to a large calcium reactor and couldn't be happier. I would suggest using the aquariumplants.com regulator and a peristaltic pump. After the upfront cost and tweaking of the reactor, it is being monitored by my apex (pH probe in reactor with alarm) and I've needed to do nothing to it (3 months and counting).

d2mini
06/26/2012, 10:23 AM
Well now I'm confused. lol
Typically i've heard that kalk can't keep up on larger tanks with sps.
I'd really like to go with a single solution if possible. If I dose kalk and then need to supplement with something else anyway... seems overly complicated.
I'd spend the money on a calcium reactor if that was a way to take care of calc and alk on its own.
I already run a LiterMeter III as my pump/controller for auto water changes.

110galreef
06/26/2012, 11:42 AM
I have a 250g tank, 40g frag tank, & 65 gal sump. SPS dominate, clams etc....

Bubble magus triple doser and BRS 2 part. Works like a charm.

The doser is quite, accurate and priced great. The profilux dosers are a bit more but a little better quality I'd say.

I am dosing 150ml/day of alk & cal spread out 8 times a day. So in essence 18.75ml every 3 hrs. I manually add MG as needed. I don't seem to go thru very much.

Oh and I also only do a 10% WC every 3 mos. Everything is rocking! Very simple low maintenece system.

I chose dosing over a reactor as less to possibly go wrong and it is very simple to dial in.

tmz
06/26/2012, 12:22 PM
I'm not sure calcium reactors can handle the load of a heavy sps tank alone either and then there's the ph issue.
To iterate in my case kalk does almost alll of it , Just a tablesppoon of baked baking soda and a teaspoon of calcium chloride per week for the 600gallon system to tweak it and make up for lost time on the kalk when the pump is off for a couple of hours during refill. If you had to use kalk and two part a 3 pump liter meter or bubble magnus could do it all. For me it would be less worrisome than a CACO3 reactor where monitroing effluent flow,. clogs, CO2 rates and refills, media selction and refill,ph control, 2 pumps,sometimes a second course of media,etc ,inconsistency etc. didn't make my day. Many use them and are happy with them. I like mine on the shelf for now and have for the last 3.5 years .

roni
06/26/2012, 12:40 PM
Quick stupid question. I've been dosing kalk for most of my needs as well with 2 part for the balance. Currently, I'm just dumping in some kalk into the reactor and then dosing with a litermeter. However, I've never really measured out anything, just dumped in the kalk and made sure to not dose from the bottom of the reactor. When the solution starts to look like there isn't any slurry at the bottom, I pour some more in. My assumption is that once the kalk saturates, the remainder will not stay in suspension and therefore I can add as much as I want safely. Is this an incorrect assumption?

jerpa
06/26/2012, 03:20 PM
Quick stupid question. I've been dosing kalk for most of my needs as well with 2 part for the balance. Currently, I'm just dumping in some kalk into the reactor and then dosing with a litermeter. However, I've never really measured out anything, just dumped in the kalk and made sure to not dose from the bottom of the reactor. When the solution starts to look like there isn't any slurry at the bottom, I pour some more in. My assumption is that once the kalk saturates, the remainder will not stay in suspension and therefore I can add as much as I want safely. Is this an incorrect assumption?

No you are correct. Any kalk added beyond the saturation point will collect at the bottom of the reservoir and dissolve the next time fresh water is added. Many people add a large amount of kalk to their reservoir and just refill until all of it dissolves.

I just switched from 2 part to kalk on my young but SPS dominant tank and am thrilled with the ease of it. It keeps up with my current consumption(~1-1.5 dKh/day) and I hope to meet enough of my demand in the future to make adjustments with 2 part a weekly affair. I think this would be the easiest, lowest cost, and most failsafe way to take care of dosing.

bertoni
06/26/2012, 11:25 PM
One point to keep in mind is that some of the slurry on the bottom will be impurities and calcium carbonate, so it's hard to know how much Kalk still is in the reservoir.

d2mini
06/27/2012, 06:12 AM
Well, i have to say my interest is piqued.

1. How often do you dump this slurry and start fresh?
2. What is the limiting factor that seems to put a cap on how high kalkwasser will raise your parameters? Why can't you just dose more?
3. tmz, why did you decide to use a large brute instead of a kalk reactor like the Aquamedic unit from BRS that prevents the slurry from forming?

Thanks for the replies!

JHawlz9989
06/27/2012, 08:47 AM
Well now I'm confused. lol
Typically i've heard that kalk can't keep up on larger tanks with sps.
I'd really like to go with a single solution if possible. If I dose kalk and then need to supplement with something else anyway... seems overly complicated.
I'd spend the money on a calcium reactor if that was a way to take care of calc and alk on its own.
I already run a LiterMeter III as my pump/controller for auto water changes.

I'm not sure calcium reactors can handle the load of a heavy sps tank alone either and then there's the ph issue.
To iterate in my case kalk does almost alll of it , Just a tablesppoon of baked baking soda and a teaspoon of calcium chloride per week for the 600gallon system to tweak it and make up for lost time on the kalk when the pump is off for a couple of hours during refill. If you had to use kalk and two part a 3 pump liter meter or bubble magnus could do it all. For me it would be less worrisome than a CACO3 reactor where monitroing effluent flow,. clogs, CO2 rates and refills, media selction and refill,ph control, 2 pumps,sometimes a second course of media,etc ,inconsistency etc. didn't make my day. Many use them and are happy with them. I like mine on the shelf for now and have for the last 3.5 years .

Tom, I'm curious as to what you attribute your success to when using just kalk with minor adjustments, when most people seem to quickly decide that kalk cannot keep up. With the amount of calcification you have going on, I imagine most would have given up on kalk years ago. I suspect it would be the continuous water changes with high-number salt, but I am curious to hear your thoughts.

Josh

Alex T.
06/27/2012, 10:06 AM
Tom, I'm curious as to what you attribute your success to when using just kalk with minor adjustments, when most people seem to quickly decide that kalk cannot keep up. With the amount of calcification you have going on, I imagine most would have given up on kalk years ago. I suspect it would be the continuous water changes with high-number salt, but I am curious to hear your thoughts.

Josh

Actually, I think that if you run your tank just a little higher than NSW parameters with 400 - 420 Calcium, 7-8 dKH and magnsesium between 1200 and 1300, kalk may be able to keep up just fine with a salt mix that is elevated slightly in parameters. If you like to run your tank in the higher range of those parameters (Ca 440+, dKH 9+, Magnesium 1350+) then kalk may have a hard time doing it alone in a SPS and clam dominated tank. I see no need to keep things unnaturally elevated in my SPS tank, and since I use natural seawater for all water changes now, I'm more inclined not to mess with what mother nature already provides on her own.

JHawlz9989
06/27/2012, 11:10 AM
Actually, I think that if you run your tank just a little higher than NSW parameters with 400 - 420 Calcium, 7-8 dKH and magnsesium between 1200 and 1300, kalk may be able to keep up just fine with a salt mix that is elevated slightly in parameters. If you like to run your tank in the higher range of those parameters (Ca 440+, dKH 9+, Magnesium 1350+) then kalk may have a hard time doing it alone in a SPS and clam dominated tank. I see no need to keep things unnaturally elevated in my SPS tank, and since I use natural seawater for all water changes now, I'm more inclined not to mess with what mother nature already provides on her own.

I use IO salt and top off with saturated limewater, and have noticed my tank can go roughly a week before falling below 125 ppm in alk. I don't really test the calcium. At that point, I have to do a 15% water change to give my parameters a little bit of a boost. I'm currently experimenting with adding vinegar to my kalk to see if I can keep the values a little bit more stable. This is all in a 20 long with two heads of frogspawn, two acans, some zoas, a coco worm, tons of feather dusters, and a small amount of coralline growth. I experience a little less than 2% evaporation per day (average 1.7%). While my stony corals are growing well and adding new heads, I find it odd that Tom has experienced such success with kalk in a system where there is so much growth from so many demanding animals.

His TOTM article is one I have enjoyed reading many times, and his results speak for themselves. I'm wondering if there is some sort of externality that many of us are missing. How many TOTM's have been successful using just kalk and the occasional boost? I don't recall reading too many...

But then again, maybe I'm just grasping at straws. :confused:

Josh

tmz
06/27/2012, 12:22 PM
<table align="center" bgcolor="#CCECFF" border="2" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="1" width="91%"><tbody><tr><td colspan="3">Table 1.� Parameters critical to control in reef aquaria.
</td> </tr> <tr><td width="20%">Parameter:</td> <td width="40%">Reef Aquaria Recommendation:</td> <td width="40%">Typical Surface Ocean Value:<sup>1</sup></td> </tr> <tr> <td width="20%">Calcium</td> <td width="40%">380-450 ppm</td> <td width="40%">420 ppm</td> </tr> <tr> <td height="18" width="20%">Alkalinity</td> <td height="18" width="40%">2.5-4 meq/L
7-11 dKH
125-200 ppm CaCO3 equivalents</td> <td height="18" width="40%">2.5 meq/L
7 dKH
125 ppm CaCO3 equivalents</td> </tr> <tr> <td width="20%">Salinity</td> <td width="40%">35 ppt
sg = 1.026</td> <td width="40%">34-36 ppt
sg = 1.025-1.027</td> </tr> <tr> <td width="20%">Temperature</td> <td width="40%">76-83 F</td> <td width="40%">Variable<sup>2</sup></td> </tr> <tr> <td width="20%">pH</td> <td width="40%">7.8-8.5 OK
8.1-8.3 is better</td> <td width="40%">8.0-8.3 (can be lower or higher in lagoons) </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="20%">Magnesium</td> <td width="40%">1250-1350 ppm</td> <td width="40%">1280 ppm</td> </tr> <tr> <td width="20%">Phosphate</td> <td width="40%">< 0.03 ppm</td> <td width="40%">0.005 ppm</td> </tr> <tr> <td height="22" width="20%">Ammonia</td> <td height="22" width="40%"><0.1 ppm</td> <td height="22" width="40%">Variable (typically <0.1 ppm)</td> </tr> </tbody></table>

tmz
06/27/2012, 12:38 PM
Actually, I think that if you run your tank just a little higher than NSW parameters with 400 - 420 Calcium, 7-8 dKH and magnsesium between 1200 and 1300, kalk may be able to keep up just fine with a salt mix that is elevated slightly in parameters. If you like to run your tank in the higher range of those parameters (Ca 440+, dKH 9+, Magnesium 1350+) then kalk may have a hard time doing it alone in a SPS and clam dominated tank. I see no need to keep things unnaturally elevated in my SPS tank, and since I use natural seawater for all water changes now, I'm more inclined not to mess with what mother nature already provides on her own.

They are well within recommended ranges. A reef tank is nothing like the ocean . It's a tiny droplet extraordinarily dense with life and biological activity in comaparison to the vastness of the sea. Mother nature doesn't put animals in confined glass boxes. Further values from oceanographers do vary by location and condition and are typical not absolute.

The major element concentrations , partculary calcium and carbonate akalinity and calcium become a problem for corals when the drop to low from consumption. Ph effects alk too and variable CO2 levels effecting ph are less stable in a reef tank than they are in the ocean.. Bottom line for me is that a little extra within recommended ranges is a good margin of safety,imo, particularly given the lack of accuracy and consistency in hobby grade testing.

tmz
06/27/2012, 01:50 PM
Tom, I'm curious as to what you attribute your success to when using just kalk with minor adjustments, when most people seem to quickly decide that kalk cannot keep up. With the amount of calcification you have going on, I imagine most would have given up on kalk years ago. I suspect it would be the continuous water changes with high-number salt, but I am curious to hear your thoughts.

The salt mix isn't that high. Corallife used to b very high in calcium but they have redone their formula . At1.026 sg I'm getting high 400s in calcium now and 1350 plus in magnesium. Alkalinity which depletes the fastest in calcification is only 8dkh in new mix. 1% per day is only 30% per month .
There is some extra for maintenance but all in all my water changes are not atypical.

I can't account for others experiences. I do think based on my experience kalk can do more than is generally thought if it is dosed as clear fully saturated limewater consistently in small amounts over a 24 hour period. This gets the most calcium hydroxide into the tank water as top off over the course of the 24 hours without wasting alk and calcium due to abiotic preciptation. Steady reasonably high magnesium helps keep it in solution too.
Dosing vinegar and vodka depresses ph a bit offsetting some of the ordinary ph raising effects too. Althugh in my case , I still need a CO2 scrubber to keep ph as high as I want even with continuous kalk dosing.

tmz
06/27/2012, 02:25 PM
1. How often do you dump this slurry and start fresh?
2. What is the limiting factor that seems to put a cap on how high kalkwasser will raise your parameters? Why can't you just dose more?
3. tmz, why did you decide to use a large brute instead of a kalk reactor like the Aquamedic unit from BRS that prevents the slurry from forming?

1. Once a year or so. I just turn the pump off and restir it in when refilling and let it resettle for 2 hours before restarting the dosing pump.

2. First , it's limited by top off needs, unless you want to draw out water and then salinity is affected. You'd have to increase evaporation rates to dose more.

Second, only so much calcium hydroxide will stay in the water as calcium and carbonte. Beyond the 2tsp per gallon threshold it forms calcim carbonate cyrstals ,coral sand, and falls out of the water. It won't redisove at normal reeftank ph and is basically useless. Ph rises with the additional hydroxide to a point where the basicity (high ph/ lack of H+ activity to offset teh negatively charge oxide)of the solution casues the precipitation. Acid, like acetic acid( vinegar) can offset this to a point where 36% more saturation can be achieved. ,ie with 48 ml of vinegar per gallon of freshwater the solution will hold 2.72 tsps of kalk vs the usual 2. I do not spike teh kalk with vinegar. 2tsps per galllon works for me.

3. I use a still reservoir which the brute can acommodates for a system as large as mine. Some use larger or smaller still reservoirs. . I get consistently fully saturated clear limewater this way as agitation is minimal.. Neilsen type reactors are sealed to the air to limit CO2 mixing into the water when stirring occurs and use less space. However, the rather continuous addition of new water requires more stirring and more particulates in the water often result. Many have difficulty with consistency of the dose when using them :sometimes high as excess undissolved kalk can enter the tank where it will dissolve; sometimes low as new freshwater passes through the reactor without adequate stirring and settling time to ensure and adequate amount of kalk is put in solution. A still reservoir takes more space for a large system but is simpler and more consistent,imo. I am unfamiliar with the aquamedic unit. I look it over .

tmz
06/27/2012, 02:35 PM
Quick stupid question. I've been dosing kalk for most of my needs as well with 2 part for the balance. Currently, I'm just dumping in some kalk into the reactor and then dosing with a litermeter. However, I've never really measured out anything, just dumped in the kalk and made sure to not dose from the bottom of the reactor. When the solution starts to look like there isn't any slurry at the bottom, I pour some more in. My assumption is that once the kalk saturates, the remainder will not stay in suspension and therefore I can add as much as I want safely. Is this an incorrect assumption?

Right, As Jonathan notes some of that slurry is precipitated impurities , so judging when to add more kalk based on the slurry could be tricky.

You can add more than two teaspoons per gallon as excess will fall to the bottom as undissolved kalk which can dissolve with more water. I routinely dose about 2.5 tsps per gallon each refill, even though I know only 2 will stay in solution , The extra can make up for any strength the solution loses if CO2 gets in the water which is very minimal if the water is not stirred. Even in a coverd but unsealed can it will hold it's strength for weeks or longer.

tmz
06/27/2012, 04:38 PM
3. tmz, why did you decide to use a large brute instead of a kalk reactor like the Aquamedic unit from BRS that prevents the slurry from forming?

OK looked up the $500 Aquamedic unit.Exterrnal stirrers are commonplace in Neilson type reactors. While it may reduce the slurry that appears on the bottom it won't eliminiate it or reduce it .It'll just stir it into the dosing water slowly. Precipitation of impurities and undissolved kalk are likely to be suspended in the water with contiuous stirring ,perhaps in small amounts at one time but it's still all going to your tank.,Where else would it go.?

d2mini
06/27/2012, 08:43 PM
TMZ, thanks for all the detailed explanations.
And after reading some of your other responses, I was starting to think the same as you in regards to the Aquamedic reactor.

tmz
06/27/2012, 09:02 PM
You are welcome. I wish you success whichever supplementation scheme suits your style and preference. They can all work and I've tried several but I strongly prefer kalk from a still reservoir and think it is often discounted unnecessarily for an sps system.

coralreefdoc
07/27/2012, 06:47 AM
They can all work and I've tried several but I strongly prefer kalk from a still reservoir and think it is often discounted unnecessarily for an sps system.

I concur. Especially when supplemented with a "3" part dosing scheme.

Excellent/quality information as usual, Tom. Using Kalkwasser as an analogy, it is always a pleasure to read/absorb pure, quality information (saturated limewater) versus the regurgitated, mis-understood/informed garbage carelessly left to float around.

Your opinion(s) of CaCO3 reactors is also shared here, for many of the same reasons you have previously eluded to :)

tmz
07/27/2012, 12:13 PM
Thankyou