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Old 12/27/2017, 09:10 AM   #1
2mk
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What are Normal Parameters for a 35 Gallon Tank

Dear all. Wisdom requested for all experience reefers.

I have kept a 35 gallon reef tank for 6+ years but never tested any parameters. Never understood / unable to manage any of it anyways. The only thing I test is salinity with a Refratometer during weekly water changes. Otherwise, everything was done by trial and error.

I consider my tank pretty successful because I have kept 1 hammer, 1 frog spawn, 1 Leather, 1 pollop, and some others for all these years and they have been multiplying and growing to the point i am running out of space.

Recently I have jump the gun and went ahead to buy and Neptune Apex System that comes with 4 probes. All of a sudden being bombarded by all of these conflicting parameters.

I am looking for wisdom of what is considered normal / required parameters for the following:

1. Conductivity / Salinity in ppt measurement
2. pH probe
3. ORP probe
4. Temperature prob

5. NItrate
6. Nitrite
7. Phosphate
8. Ammonia
9. Alkalinity

Also, input for any other parameters of Nitrate, Nitrite, and etc is greatly appreciated.


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Old 12/27/2017, 09:39 AM   #2
GuyInCentralVA
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What are all these values in your tank? That would allow us to look at them and let you know what is off and what to do.

Nitrite and ammonia should always be 0.

Nitrate should be very low, different people keep it at different exact levels. Some keep it undetectable, others 1, 5, or even 10. It also depends on the corals. SPS need lower nutrient levels (partly because they have higher lighting which can cause algae issues with nutrient levels that wouldn't cause as much algae at lower lighting levels). Softies (zoas, mushrooms, leathers, etc.) will use nutrients more than SPS.

Phosphate should be very low to undetectable, depending on the precision of the kit. I am guessing Apex will detect the ideal levels of 0.03-0.06.

PH should be 8.0-8.4. It is dependent on alkalinity and depends on what you use to dose alkalinity. Alkalinity should be 8-12 dKH. Soda ash will raise the pH better than baking soda. Most people prefer to focus on alkalinity, not pH. Chasing pH can cause you to go overboard with your alkalinity and may not be stable. If your pH is too low, dosing soda ash and even adding a CO2 scrubber to the air intake of your skimmer will help raise it (CO2 creates carbonic acid in water, which obviously lowers the pH).

You also need to test calcium and magnesium. Magnesium should be 1300-1500. Magnesium keeps calcium and alkalinity from precipitating with each other directly in the water column. Calcium should be 380-500.

I keep magnesium, alkalinity, and calcium at their maxes because I have a lot of fast-growing stony corals.

Check out BulkReefSupply's videos on chemistry, they are very good at explaining all of this.

Also check out Saltwater Chemistry (that site also has some other great articles).

You will probably need to focus on nutrient control first, then magnesium, calcium, and alkalinity. When in doubt, do less rather than more. You can always do more later, but too much is harder to fix.


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Old 12/27/2017, 10:07 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2mk View Post
I am looking for wisdom of what is considered normal / required parameters for the following:

1. Conductivity / Salinity in ppt measurement
2. pH probe
3. ORP probe
4. Temperature prob

5. NItrate
6. Nitrite
7. Phosphate
8. Ammonia
9. Alkalinity

Also, input for any other parameters of Nitrate, Nitrite, and etc is greatly appreciated.
1. 35ppt salinity. Keep using your refractometer. Just use the probe to monitor stability, like an ATO failure.
2. pH: anywhere between 7.8-8.4. Most folks here do recommend testing for or caring about pH
3. ORP: Don't know. Are you running ozone?
4. Temp: 78 +or- a couple degrees, but stable.
5. Nitrate: less than 10ppm
6. Nitrite: zero
7. Phosphate: about 0.1ppm. You want a little, but not 0.00. I would only care about it if I had algae issues.
8. Ammonia: zero
9. Alk: Somewhere between 7-11, and stable.


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Old 12/27/2017, 10:19 AM   #4
2mk
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My numbers are now:

The following are Neptune Apex Probes Parameters

TEMPERATURE 76.5
CONDUCTIVITY 37.8 PPT (Refractometer reading are 1.020 to 1.025)
pH 7.25
ORP 374

I don't have the rest until I have my test kit coming in probably by next year (next week)

I just need wisdom in what would consider normal parameters for a really good tank chemistry even though i have been keeping my tank blindly and ok all this time.

My Corals so far are simple and beginners corals. Surely I need to keep an eye on more pinpoint accuracy to go into expert level corals.


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Old 12/27/2017, 10:28 AM   #5
2mk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyInCentralVA View Post
What are all these values in your tank? That would allow us to look at them and let you know what is off and what to do.

Nitrite and ammonia should always be 0.

Nitrate should be very low, different people keep it at different exact levels. Some keep it undetectable, others 1, 5, or even 10. It also depends on the corals. SPS need lower nutrient levels (partly because they have higher lighting which can cause algae issues with nutrient levels that wouldn't cause as much algae at lower lighting levels). Softies (zoas, mushrooms, leathers, etc.) will use nutrients more than SPS.

Phosphate should be very low to undetectable, depending on the precision of the kit. I am guessing Apex will detect the ideal levels of 0.03-0.06.

PH should be 8.0-8.4. It is dependent on alkalinity and depends on what you use to dose alkalinity. Alkalinity should be 8-12 dKH. Soda ash will raise the pH better than baking soda. Most people prefer to focus on alkalinity, not pH. Chasing pH can cause you to go overboard with your alkalinity and may not be stable. If your pH is too low, dosing soda ash and even adding a CO2 scrubber to the air intake of your skimmer will help raise it (CO2 creates carbonic acid in water, which obviously lowers the pH).

You also need to test calcium and magnesium. Magnesium should be 1300-1500. Magnesium keeps calcium and alkalinity from precipitating with each other directly in the water column. Calcium should be 380-500.

I keep magnesium, alkalinity, and calcium at their maxes because I have a lot of fast-growing stony corals.

Check out BulkReefSupply's videos on chemistry, they are very good at explaining all of this.

Also check out Saltwater Chemistry (that site also has some other great articles).

You will probably need to focus on nutrient control first, then magnesium, calcium, and alkalinity. When in doubt, do less rather than more. You can always do more later, but too much is harder to fix.
Thank you for the speedy reply. This is a lot of useful information that I will try to follow closely once my test kit arrives. And possibly by more test units other than the ones I bought.

Just a side note: My Apex Parameters are either off due to bad calibrations, or my tank actually have those numbers which I don't know at this point since I never tested anything. There is not reference for me.


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Old 12/27/2017, 10:39 AM   #6
2mk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nereefpat View Post
1. 35ppt salinity. Keep using your refractometer. Just use the probe to monitor stability, like an ATO failure.
2. pH: anywhere between 7.8-8.4. Most folks here do recommend testing for or caring about pH
3. ORP: Don't know. Are you running ozone?
4. Temp: 78 +or- a couple degrees, but stable.
5. Nitrate: less than 10ppm
6. Nitrite: zero
7. Phosphate: about 0.1ppm. You want a little, but not 0.00. I would only care about it if I had algae issues.
8. Ammonia: zero
9. Alk: Somewhere between 7-11, and stable.
Thank you for the info and fast reply. My readings are as follows:

1. My Refractometer salinity is always stable around 1.020 to 1.025
2. pH right now around: Min 7.14 - Average 7.32 - Maximum 7.57 for the past 6 days

3. ORP I have no idea what that does (Don't have Ozone)
4. Temp 75F to 76.8 F
5. Nitrate (don't know. waiting for test kit to arrive)
6. Nitrite (don't know)
7. Phosphate (don't know)
8. Ammonia (don't know)
9. alk (don't know)


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Old 12/27/2017, 11:51 AM   #7
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That salinity is not stable. It should be around 1.026. Stable might include 1.025, but it shouldn't vary more than 0.001. Do you have an ATO? Are you topping off 1-2x daily?

PH is very low. I am guessing you aren't dosing calcium and alkalinity. The alkalinity is probably very low, which is why the pH is so low.


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Old 12/27/2017, 12:00 PM   #8
2mk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyInCentralVA View Post
That salinity is not stable. It should be around 1.026. Stable might include 1.025, but it shouldn't vary more than 0.001. Do you have an ATO? Are you topping off 1-2x daily?

PH is very low. I am guessing you aren't dosing calcium and alkalinity. The alkalinity is probably very low, which is why the pH is so low.
1. Yes I do have a Hydor ATO. How many times is it topping off a day? I don't know. All I know is it will automatically top off when the water level reaches the low mark and turns the pump on. I bought a Neptune Apex ATO kit that I have yet to install.

2. pH might totally be not right because Apex probe calibration might be wrong. I need to recalibrate once my calibration solutions comes in. Also I do add liquid calcium and alkalinity all done during the weekly water change. As mentioned before, it's done without testing any parameters with test kits.

I will print all this info out and start testing once my testing kits comes in and try to keep things at those parameter.

Thanks


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Old 12/27/2017, 12:10 PM   #9
GuyInCentralVA
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Never dose without testing. For all you know, it is perfect and dosing will cause it to get too high. This is less likely with stuff such as calcium and alkalinity, but a horrible habit to get into. Even alkalinity can be a major problem if it's too high.

That stuff usually needs to be dosed daily, even if small amounts. It keeps everything much more stable. Get kits and dose according to the tests. Check out BulkReefSupply's videos and the link I posted above. They will help you get your head wrapped around all of this.


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Old 12/27/2017, 12:27 PM   #10
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This article covers a lot of parameters in detail:

http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.htm

I think it's worth reading.

For the basics, I'd check temperature and salinity regularly. Hopefully, your refractometer is calibrated with a saltwater standard. Alkalinity helps with pH, so I'd check that, too. Corals require calcium, and can consume a lot of it, so I'd keep a test kit on hand if I had corals.

In emergencies, an ammonia kit and something like Prime or Amquel are good to have on hand. Phosphate, nitrite, and nitrate kits can be useful for diagnosing coral problems. pH can be worth checking in rare cases, and a probe or meter is more accurate than a test kit.

A controller with probes would be a reasonable way to measure salinity, temperature, and pH, but they aren't a necessity. I wouldn't bother with ORP, personally:

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-1...ture/index.htm


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Old 12/27/2017, 12:57 PM   #11
ecam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nereefpat View Post
1. 35ppt salinity. Keep using your refractometer. Just use the probe to monitor stability, like an ATO failure.
2. pH: anywhere between 7.8-8.4. Most folks here do recommend testing for or caring about pH
3. ORP: Don't know. Are you running ozone?
4. Temp: 78 +or- a couple degrees, but stable.
5. Nitrate: less than 10ppm
6. Nitrite: zero
7. Phosphate: about 0.1ppm. You want a little, but not 0.00. I would only care about it if I had algae issues.
8. Ammonia: zero
9. Alk: Somewhere between 7-11, and stable.
Plus one on these


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Old 12/27/2017, 01:31 PM   #12
2mk
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Originally Posted by GuyInCentralVA View Post
Never dose without testing. For all you know, it is perfect and dosing will cause it to get too high. This is less likely with stuff such as calcium and alkalinity, but a horrible habit to get into. Even alkalinity can be a major problem if it's too high.

That stuff usually needs to be dosed daily, even if small amounts. It keeps everything much more stable. Get kits and dose according to the tests. Check out BulkReefSupply's videos and the link I posted above. They will help you get your head wrapped around all of this.
Understood. I suspect i have been under dosing cause you mentioned it get out of hand dosing without testing.


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Old 12/27/2017, 01:35 PM   #13
2mk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bertoni View Post
This article covers a lot of parameters in detail:

http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.htm

I think it's worth reading.

For the basics, I'd check temperature and salinity regularly. Hopefully, your refractometer is calibrated with a saltwater standard. Alkalinity helps with pH, so I'd check that, too. Corals require calcium, and can consume a lot of it, so I'd keep a test kit on hand if I had corals.

In emergencies, an ammonia kit and something like Prime or Amquel are good to have on hand. Phosphate, nitrite, and nitrate kits can be useful for diagnosing coral problems. pH can be worth checking in rare cases, and a probe or meter is more accurate than a test kit.

A controller with probes would be a reasonable way to measure salinity, temperature, and pH, but they aren't a necessity. I wouldn't bother with ORP, personally:

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-1...ture/index.htm
Thank you. I will keep what you mentioned in mind and ammonia kit a or Prime or Amquel. I am familiar with what Amquel is. Never thought emergencies can arise. I guess i am luckiy all this time.


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Old 12/27/2017, 02:04 PM   #14
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Emergencies do seem to be rare, but Amquel is cheap.


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Old 12/27/2017, 02:54 PM   #15
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Without running ozone, ORP is not of much value. It should be stable. You might want to set alarm if it drops to 250, tht would indicate something dies or some other calamity in your tank

When wast the last time you calibrated your refractometer? Did you use fairly new 35ppt calibration solution?


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Old 12/27/2017, 03:40 PM   #16
2mk
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Without running ozone, ORP is not of much value. It should be stable. You might want to set alarm if it drops to 250, tht would indicate something dies or some other calamity in your tank

When wast the last time you calibrated your refractometer? Did you use fairly new 35ppt calibration solution?
About two weeks ago with calibration solution that was in a bottle that was never used before that i bought some time ago but kept really well.


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Old 12/28/2017, 04:16 PM   #17
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I had same reaction. Shutoff your ATO and add RO/DI manually until you have stable salinity. Fish could tolerate those swings but not shrimp, clams, corals, etc.

Alk is more important to measure if anything than Ca, etc. since that's your buffering system. You prolly just need to re-calibrate your refactometer.


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