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Old 01/04/2018, 01:10 PM   #1
MikeyLegs
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Smile Questions from a first-timer..

Hello everyone! Let me start off by saying that this is my first saltwater tank and I'm blown away by the close-knit community here at RC. Being a newbie, I have some questions I was hoping you guys could help me with. For starters:

Tank:
Biocube 32
25 lbs of dry rock
2lb live rock
30 lbs of fiji pink/cushed coral live sand
Tunze ATO
Tunze Skimmer
Jebao Wavemaker
Intank Media Tray with filter floss
Sachem Matrix

Livestock:
1 Ocellaris clownfish
1 Black Snowflake clownfish
1 Pajama Cardinal
1 Firefish
Watchman Goby paired with Snapping Shrimp
1 Peppermint Shrimp
1 Fire Shrimp
1 Tuxedo Urchin
8 Blue Leg Hermits
4 Nassarius Snails
2 Mexican Turbo Snails
4 Bumblebee Snails
1 Brittle Sea Star
10 coral frags (2 hammers, torch, bubble, green start polyp, goniopora, duncan, starburst, colony polyp, acropora)

I ran a 45 day fishless cycle using Dr Tim's Ammonium Chloride before introducing any livestock. Water params had been consistent throughout the process. I've slowly introduced the livestock listed above over the course of the past two weeks.

Current water params:

77.5 degrees
1.023 salinity
0 ammonia
0 nitrite
10 nitrate
8.4 pH
9-10 alkalinity
360-380 calcium

My plan was to start using Kalkwasser in my ATO so I started dosing alkalinity and calcium, which seems to be driving my pH towards the high end of the acceptable range.

Questions:

1. Should I do a partial water change to get my pH down before continuing to dose alk and calcium?

2. Should I have my protein skimmer running 24/7?

3. With the exception of the colony polyp and the acropora, all of the frags seems to be thriving. Should I move the two struggling frags to a different part of the tank? (polyps are at the bottom, acropora is at the top)

4. I have yet to install Purigen and ChemiPure Elite. Should I consider putting that in now? Or wait until the tank is more established?

5. Everyone seems to be eating just fine. I'm using pellets for the fish, brine shrimp for the inverts, and target feeding oyster feast to the frags. Is that a good combo? Is there something else that would be better suited to my stock?

6. Am I doing anything obviously wrong?


I would really appreciate any input you guys could offer. This is such a fun hobby and I am 100% committed to ensuring that the tank thrives. Thanks!


Mike


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Old 01/04/2018, 02:32 PM   #2
JUNBUG361
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(1)your ph is a within tolerance. I think your calcium is low. nitrate is high(water change or reduce feeding)
(3)you could move the corals that are struggling till, you get that spot they like
(4)I use frozen brine shrimp for feed
(6)does not look like your doing any wrong. till stuff starts to die off
the tank looks good increase your salinity level(1.026)


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Old 01/04/2018, 03:43 PM   #3
Uncle99
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Nothing wrong
As stated, if your going to keep corals...1.026
PH will fluctuate, 8.4 is good....monitor
Skimmer, yup, I run 24/7
My calcium is 450,
What about you Magnisium......needs to be 1320-1360.... To buffer your calcium and Alk levels. Your salt mix should put these three in the range....
Once my cycle was finished, all I need to dose is NoPox, which lowered my nitrate and phosphate to zero....weekly water changes kept all else in check.....


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Old 01/04/2018, 04:26 PM   #4
MikeyLegs
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Thank you for the responses! What is the safest way to increase salinity? Water change? Or temporarily switch to a salt mix ATO reservoir?

I'm currently using Instant Ocean salt. Is that a good mix or should I switch to something else?

None of my test kits measure magnesium. What would you suggest for that?


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Old 01/04/2018, 04:37 PM   #5
thegrun
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Are you keeping stony corals? If not there is no reason to raise your calcium levels. If you are keeping any type of coral I would slowly raise your salinity to 1.026. If you do have stony corals then I would add a tablespoon of white vinegar per per gallon of kalkwasser mix to lower your pH a little. The vinegar will also allow you to dissolve a little more kalk into your solution if the need arises.


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Old 01/04/2018, 08:14 PM   #6
MikeyLegs
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Thank you thegrun. I don't have any stonys yet, but I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to futureproof and try to maintain constant alk and calc levels with kalk, especially since I have a good ATO unit that can do all the heavy lifting for me. I just switched over to a saltwater ATO reservoir. I plan on measuring daily to see how the SG changes. I'll update with results. Thanks again all.


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Old 01/04/2018, 08:44 PM   #7
Daddi0
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You CANNOT run Kalk in your saltwater ATO unless you first mix the Kalk with vinegar!! Most reefers add R/O with their ATO to compensate for evaporation.
Cheers! Mark


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Old 01/04/2018, 09:56 PM   #8
MikeyLegs
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Mark -- oh no way. thats not what my intention was. I am only using the saltwater ATO to get my salinity up. once it rises to 1.025-6, I will immediately switch back to RO/DI. thanks for the input.


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Old 01/05/2018, 07:34 AM   #9
Uncle99
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I like yor thinking of getting water parameters up to NSW now. Unfortunately Magnisium tests kits are bit expensive. If your Alk and calcium tests do not show really low numbers after a water change, your magnisum is likely in the buffer range......I bought one from Red Sea and have been happy. Ever since I put every SW parameter on point with a test kit...My DT and all the corals look great and are fully extended.....no more guess work...


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Old 01/05/2018, 08:36 AM   #10
sde1500
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeyLegs View Post
Thank you thegrun. I don't have any stonys yet, but I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to futureproof and try to maintain constant alk and calc levels with kalk, especially since I have a good ATO unit that can do all the heavy lifting for me. I just switched over to a saltwater ATO reservoir. I plan on measuring daily to see how the SG changes. I'll update with results. Thanks again all.
FYI you have stony corals. LPS and SPS, large polyp Stony, Small polyp Stony. Acropora is SPS, Torch, frogspawn, hammer are LPS.

Water change to mess with PH is a fool's errand, won't work and won't last. Its fine where it is. Definitely get your Calcium up. With your tank as new as it is, I would actually say don't run kalk. Those corals are all small and new. You should be able to keep up parameters with weekly water changes. My tank is two years in, with 10 or so sps/lps corals and I rarely need to adjust parameters beyond just water changes. It is when you start to notice parameters staying low after water changes where dosing becomes needed.


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Old 01/05/2018, 08:50 AM   #11
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Personally I wouldn't worry about 10ppm for nitrates. Might actually be a good thing because that tuxedo urchin is going to starve in that bare tank. They will mostly eat algae and coralline. Are you trying to raise your ALK and CA using KALK? That is not good as it will continue to increase your PH. You need to set your parameters where you want them (ideally, CA 420-450ppm, ALK 7-10dkh, mg1290-1350ppm) THEN use kalk in your ATO to keep the parameters steady - only if your inhabitants are depleting the ALK and CA between water changes. Otherwise the water changes should keep up with the demand if done weekly @ roughly 15-20% IME using plain IO. I hate to say but the Acropora might be premature and I wish you luck with getting that to be happy. Once again DO NOT use kalk to increase your CA and ALK! It will sky rocket your PH. I use Salifert MG tester and it's fairly cheap on Amazon.


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Old 01/05/2018, 08:56 AM   #12
MikeyLegs
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Thanks sde. Iím still a little confused on the corals lol. Thanks for clarifying. Once I get my sg up to 1.026, I will work on the calcium. Question though: is there any downside to running Kalk once I get alk and calc where they need to be? I have no problem doing weekly water changes, but wouldnít Kalk be a more efficient way to maintain levels?

Uncle ó I am definitely going to look into the Red Sea magnesium test kit. The price isnít terrible, and I like the idea of being able to accurately measure all of the key components of a successful tank.


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Old 01/05/2018, 09:08 AM   #13
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" Question though: is there any downside to running Kalk once I get alk and calc where they need to be?"

Waste of money and possibility of fluctuating PH. Maybe just use some purple up to raise your CA to 420ish (after testing MG to make sure it's within range) and then test for the big 3 after water changes. If you start noticing ALK and CA dipping below the optimal range then use KALK. Don't let my name fool you, I've been reef keeping for 14+ yrs.


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Old 01/05/2018, 09:10 AM   #14
MikeyLegs
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Reefernoob - I am using B-Ionic 2 part to get the alk and calc levels up. I almost made the mistake of starting out with kalk before reading and realizing that that would have been a disaster. Thank god. ALWAYS READ FIRST!

My main concern at this point is that my pH continues to rise with every dose. The label specifically says not to let it get above 8.45. I’m using a digital pH meter so the results should be pretty accurate, or at least consistent. Should I just continue dosing calcium until I’m 420-450 and ignore pH? Or should I only dose once pH comes down a little?

Re: the acropora, it looked great on days 2-3 but has been very sad since. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start working on my advanced levels. I’ll leep the thread updated with progress. Fingers crossed.


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Old 01/05/2018, 09:26 AM   #15
sde1500
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Calcium and alkalinity can vary at different levels. I am not familiar with B-Ionic, but you should dose a calcium only supplement to raise calcium only. Any PH increase due to alkalinity buffer will be temporary at best, it will settle down soon after dosing. Kalk would not be a more efficient way to maintain levels if you aren't using much, it will keep dosing via your top off, but if your uptake isn't matching it, you end up overdosing the tank. What light are you using, acroporas are not easy corals to care for, it was not a great idea to add one to such a new tank.


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Old 01/05/2018, 09:43 AM   #16
MikeyLegs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sde1500 View Post
Calcium and alkalinity can vary at different levels. I am not familiar with B-Ionic, but you should dose a calcium only supplement to raise calcium only. Any PH increase due to alkalinity buffer will be temporary at best, it will settle down soon after dosing. Kalk would not be a more efficient way to maintain levels if you aren't using much, it will keep dosing via your top off, but if your uptake isn't matching it, you end up overdosing the tank. What light are you using, acroporas are not easy corals to care for, it was not a great idea to add one to such a new tank.
All points understood. I was told by the guy at my LFS that it wouldn't be too difficult to care for. I guess he was wrong. Oh well. I will keep trying to get it comfortable. I'm just using the stock LED lights that came with the Biocube for now. I am willing to upgrade to something more powerful, but I want the tank to settle and become steady first before going overboard.


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Old 01/05/2018, 10:21 AM   #17
ReeferNoob4ever
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This is why I mention Kent Purple Up. It's basically calcium in a bottle. You are only looking to increase calcium so there is no need to buffer ALK. I know people hate on Purple Up but my point is that you should only be dosing calcium AFTER you check your MG levels because if MG is too low any effort to raise either CA or ALK is futile.


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Old 01/05/2018, 11:17 AM   #18
MikeyLegs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferNoob4ever View Post
This is why I mention Kent Purple Up. It's basically calcium in a bottle. You are only looking to increase calcium so there is no need to buffer ALK. I know people hate on Purple Up but my point is that you should only be dosing calcium AFTER you check your MG levels because if MG is too low any effort to raise either CA or ALK is futile.
Great advice. I didn't even contemplate MG. Hopefully my LFS has a test kit so I can get this going tonight.

BTW this is what I am using for calcium dosing. I read a lot about it on various forums and it has great Amazon reviews.

https://www.amazon.com/ESV-Aquatics-...=bionic+2+part


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Old 01/05/2018, 11:18 AM   #19
MikeyLegs
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Also, what do you recommend to use if my MG is too low? And even if it is at a good level, would it be wise to pick up a bottle to have on hand?


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Old 01/05/2018, 11:25 AM   #20
sde1500
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MG consumption is very very slow. You could look into a DIY additive, or there are plenty of commercial products available.


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