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I tried to find the old post where I did my PH probe calibration and either I didn't post it, or I just can't find it this early in the morning. Short night, not enough coffee...
Since I can't find that post, I will just do a quick overview.
A while back, my PH was doing weird things (look at page 23 for the refugium issues) and shortly after that, I decided to go ahead and recalibrate my PH probe. This was a single junction lab grade probe that I received with my Apex. It had a manufacturer date of early 2013 so it was 6 years old. Most people are only getting about 2 years out of their probes so mine lasted quite a while longer. So I pulled out my calibration fluid that I have had for a long time (about the same amount of time as the probe) and my PH went from 7.8 straight to 8.4.
8.4 is a little high for a tank, but hey, it was up there and I was happy. Move on a few weeks and I'm seeing my PH go higher and higher, so high in fact that I had to turn off the PH warnings so my phone was not blowing up with texts and emails from my apex. I decided to pull out the calibration fluid once again and just test the probe and the 7.01 pH tested at 7.13 and the 10.01 pH tested at exactly 10.01. So my probe was reading correctly.
Because of the age of my probe, I talked to the boss (wife) and she agreed that we should get a new probe just because of the age of the one that we have. So I started looking and there are really only two that I would want to go with. One is the Neptune Apex brand and is a double junction probe. The next one is a BRS branded double junction probe. BRS is BulkReefSupply located up in Mn. The Neptune Apex double junction probe is $75 and the BRS double junction probe is $60. Because I like my money, we decided to go with the BRS probe since I had read a lot of people having really good luck with it.
That probe arrived yesterday and without calibrating it, I just stuck it in my tank. It read a pH reading of 16.01... Yea, I need to calibrate that probe. So I pulled out the new calibration fluid that I purchased with the probe and I calibrated it just like you should. I purchased single use pH calibration fluid because I was not sure if my calibration fluid was still any good. Once calibrated I stuck the probe in my old calibration fluid and it read exactly what it should read. 7.01 and 10.01, so my old stuff is still good
I then stuck the probe in my sump in the place where my old pH probe was sitting and I took the old pH probe and stuck it in the place where the ORP probe was, and I completely removed the ORP from my tank. It has read wonky from day 1 and recalibrating it is just stupid expensive for what you get out of it.
After letting the new probe settle out for a bit, it settled out at.... you can probably guess.... 7.88, EXACTLY where my old probe was reading BEFORE I calibrated it!!! So I did what any good reefer would do and I opened all of my windows in my house (awesome day yesterday temp wise, but had pretty gusty winds so no flying) and opened the stand up so the skimmer could pull in fresh air. That allowed the tanks pH to jump up to a max reading of 8.17.
While the new probe was reading 8.17, my old probe, which is still in the sump, was reading 8.57!! It went up as high as 8.59 and the day before it reached 8.60. I was kind of worried when I saw 8.60, but nothing in the tank was really stressing, in fact just the opposite, the tank is doing awesome right now! So I thought it had to be a bad probe. So with that in mind I went ahead and turned the pH warning back on since I now have a probe that can read accurately. I put the warning to If pH2 >8.35 Then ON and If pH2 <7.60 Then On in my email statement.
Well... I woke up this morning to multiple emails and text alerts for the pH once again. This time though, the pH was TOO LOW!!! I ended up hitting a 7.57 last night on a brand new, double junction lab grade pH probe that had been properly calibrated.
So yea, I go from one end of the spectrum to the other end of it. But if there is on thing in this hobby that people will tell you, it's "Stop Chasing Your pH!!!"... The coral shop where I get my corals from in OKC doesn't even monitor pH, he doesn't care. He has Apex units running his stuff, but not a pH probe in site. What you will find though are test kits all over the place for Ca, Kh and Mg, or Calcium, Alkalinity (or Carbonate Hardness) and Magnesium. If you can get your Calcium to 450ppm, your Alkalinity to 8.5DKh and your Magnesium to 1300ppm, your tank will be nice and stable and you will no longer have to worry about pH.
So here is a little game we can play. I have test kits for all of that and more coming in Today. These are better test kits than what I normally use so they should be a little more accurate. Not lab grade, those are stupid expensive, but high end hobby grade test kits. What do YOU think my Ca, Kh & Mg levels are going to be?
Here are my guesses.
Ca - 325
Kh - 7.1
Mg - 950
That is my guess. My package is out for delivery and when I get it, I will do a complete cycle of tests and we will see what it actually is. My best guess from being in this hobby is what lead me to those numbers up there. My pH is stupid low so everything has to be low. And my pH is low because my old pH probe was reading stupid high and I quit dosing Kalk to the tank which raises Ca and Kh. I have never in my life dosed Mg, never even tested for it before. So it's time!
Did a little test and it turns out my pH was showing so low because of electrical interference. I moved the wire away from any high voltage wires and I went from 7.57 to 7.83. It's still low, but it's not dangerously low like I was thinking. I'm still sticking with the numbers I posted in the above thread though.
Well its all trial and error. All you can do is extrapolate information from the reading you have. If your like me every measuring devise needs to be damn near dead perfect. I try and get everything dead on every time. I am picky like that. I dont believe in "wiggle room". Well its not that i dont bel;eive in it , I just dont like having things close enough.
So lets do a little recap to sum up what I posted above. First of all, I said my numbers were way off. Yea... But they were not off in the direction I thought they were off. They were ALL higher than I predicted.
So I predicted the Ca to be 325, it is actually 545 which is high, but it's not. More in a moment. My Kh I predicted 7.1 and it is actually 7.7. Higher than I predicted, but lower than the 9 that I want. My Mg I predicted 950 and my test kit spit out a 1760. No way in hell that is right and I"m blaming this on a bad kit. They are sending me a new one. Not just the Mg, but the entire kit. Awesome CS over at BRS.
I said that my Ca was high, but it wasn't. That is because your Mg should be 3x higher than your Ca. So if my Mg is 1760 then my Ca should be 586, I'm at 545. So in reality, I'm higher than average, but according to my Mg I'm slightly low, but seeing as there have been a rash of Mg kits reading stupid high, I may still be high on my Ca and my Mg could be low. I guess we will find out.
As for wasting money on the PH probe, I'm seriously thinking about just taking the probe off the tank. If I can get an Mg test that is accurate, I will just monitor the elements and not worry about the ph.
I had thought that they shielded this new probe, but I was wrong about that. Put that sucker near some power wires and you are going to get all kinds of janky readings from it. Move it away, and you get different readings. Which one is correct? Hell IDK because my old probe is still reading stupid high ph.
I have not yet checked nitrates or phosphates. Maybe I will do that after thinking this was Friday and keeping my wife up later than she should stay up by doing work on stuff around the house. So now I'm back in my office and going to continue to do some work, and bang my head against the wall a few more times over this tank. I really should just sell this thing and get it over with.
OMG, I just tested my NO3, or Nitrates and I'm either at or just over 64ppm!!! I started out with the low range test and the color went off as dark as it could immediately. So I did the high range test and it was still as dark as it could go. This is not good. I had planned on doing a water change a week of 10 gallons to get the tank back on track but with a NO3 reading like that, I don't think I will be doing anything to actually help the tank.
I'm doing the PO4 (Phosphate) test now. It is supposed to turn green, mine is yellow. I'm still in the low range, may have to switch to high range on this one as well. I think I see some lanthanum chloride in my future... Didn't want to do that...
Okay, I'm an idiot (kept saying that after realizing I was keeping my wife awake, and she told me to stop saying that lmao). I forgot that I had been running some GFO (Granulated Ferric Oxide) which removes Phosphates. I think the vial with my test in it is more clear than the vial with straight saltwater (comparison vial, pic on request). So I have absolutely NO phosphates in my tank which is actually a bad thing. I was hoping for 0.1 to 0.3 to be honest since corals need it to grow. So guess what I'm no longer putting in my tank?... Yup, NO MORE GFO!!!
I guess I have to stop giving @callsign4223 crap about his high NO3's. I'm pretty sure mine are higher than his lol.
Just an update. To continue what I stated above, I will know results in the morning. Because I have a float level sensor in my tank for my ATO, and I'm running a higher flow rate during the day, it lowers the level of the water in my sump during the day. Because of this I keep my ATO turned off during the day and only run it at night. And now that I'm going back to Kalk, it's even better to dose at night rather than during the day.
You see, Kalk lowers the CO2 of the tank which raises the O2 and this results in a higher pH. Dosing Kalk at night when the lights are off is the best option to keep a more stable pH in the tank all day and night.
Here is what I have done today with the tank.
I started out this morning with a bag of Baking Soda. Yea, that's right. You see, Baking Soda is what we refer to in the hobby as Alkalinity, which is really just a blanket term. What Baking soda is that you make your biscuits with is just Sodium Bicarbonate. If you mix some of this in some ro/di water and dose it to your tank, it will raise your DKh, or in other words, raise your alkalinity. But, doing this will NOT raise your pH, in fact it will usually cause it to fall. But there is a way to do this AND raise your pH at the same time.
Take that Sodium Bicarbonate and put it on a baking sheet and put it in an oven heated to 200ºF or about 100ºC and bake the Sodium Bicarbonate for one hour. This will reduce the CO2 level in the Sodium Bicarbonate and bake out all of the moisture and leave you with pure Sodium Carbonate, or Soda Ash as it is better known. Doing the same dose as you did with the Sodium Bicarbonate will not only raise your DKh, but will also raise your pH since it lowers the CO2 level in the tank.
If you have to raise your DKh a lot but don't want to raise your pH, then dose Sodium Bicarbonate. If you need to just "top off" your DKh and a pH gain would benefit your tank, then dose Sodium Carbonate. Today, I dosed Sodium Carbonate and took my DKh from 7.7 to 8.4. I will check it again tomorrow since the Kalk also raises pH and DKh AND Calcium (Ca is at 520 in my tank...) which I don't need.
Usually dosing Soda Ash will cause a white cloud in the tank. Well there was no cloud when I dosed this stuff today. So either the baking soda was bad, I didn't bake it off right, or my Calcium test kit is WAY OFF. I'm thinking the kit is off because the titration liquid for the Ca is the same as it is on the Mg and I'm reading ultra high readings on Mg. I have a new test coming so I will compare.
After I was done with that, it was time for a water change. I had already mixed up 10 gallons yesterday so this was easy, and boring.
Corals are loving life right now so nothing to update here. I was going to post a picture of the monti, but it has not grown enough for you all to see. I can see it, but I watch it multiple times a day lol.
Once the water change was done (I just pulled the water out of the sump. Less disturbance in the tank and less stress on the fish), I started looking at that massive ball of Chaeto in my sump. This thing is getting too big for the room that it has, so it is time for it to go. Well, most of it lol.
I pulled it out of the sump and put it in my sink with some salt water to rinse it off. My sink is not really big enough to deal with this thing...
Lets pull it out and take a pic of it for you all...
this is a massive ball of Chaeto for the small area it was in... Just for comparison, here it is in a 10 gallon tank (with some of my old sand from my tank that I have removed). It is touching front and back. LOTS of macro.
And from here, I tossed every bit of that in the above picture onto my compost pile. This macro is full of Phosphates and Nitrates, and to get rid of them, you GET RID OF THEM! And that is just what I did.
And now, this is all I have left.
That is about 2 handfull's of Chaeto. You would pay about $20 for what I have right here in my sump in the above picture. So for that mass I just tossed in my compost pile? Probably about $100 worth of Chaeto or so... I do love that picture above with that water fall. Most times it just falls straight down the wall, but after a while it will develop an air pocket and cause this waterfall. Love it!
I just ordered 100 Nassarius Snails for my tank. These guys bury in the sand which keeps the sand bed turned and hopefully it will release nitrates from the sand bed that I can take out with water changes. And, with them living and moving around in the sand, it will visually reduce the amount of algae in the tank. I'm trying this, water changes and parameter checking to reduce the algae rather than chemicals.
I do have another product on order from Mark Levenson and when he returns from his trip, he will ship it to me as well as a little bonus product he said he would toss in for me. I did a LOT of chatting with this guy and he did something that I never in my life would have thought an individual would do for some schmuck like me lmao. More on that in a blog post dedicated to that topic.
My pH has always had a pretty big swing. Small house and with people and animals raises the CO2, and we are often running in and out and opening windows. Just something that I have dealt with.
If you have looked at my apex in the last couple of days, you will see some pretty sharp spikes during the night. I only run my ATO at night since I'm running a varying main pump with higher flow during the day. Reduces the sump level and my ATO would be running all day long then my sump would be overfilled at night. Anyway, those spikes are because I moved my probes right next to the main pump in let (away from all high voltage) and that just happens to be where the Kalk is dripping in as well. So that is the spikes in case you were wondering.
My Torch coral was not liking where I put him, he was starting to bleach out, so I decided to move him a little lower and into a lower flow section of the tank. Well, I used epoxy to hold him down and trying to remove his frag plug, I pulled him off the plug. Oops. No damage to the coral, just no frag plug. So I stick him in the sand and to cut off some more epoxy, kneed it together and I pull the torch out of the tank, and drop him on the floor. UGH! Not ideal for the coral lol. I rinse him off immediately in the tank, then dry his base and put the epoxy on him, then I stick my arm in the tank to push him onto a rock where I think he will do well.
As I'm reaching down, Blenny just comes up and bites my hand!! First time ever that he has bit me lol. He usually just sits in the rock waiting for me to feed him, or to watch me at what I"m doing. This time, he bit me lmao. So I press the torch onto the rock and we will see how it goes. I don't really like the placement, but if he likes it, that is what matters.
I have to say Tony. There only one person when I first moved to the East coast of Florida, he was my roommate, that has the patients and dedication to maintain a salt water tank like you do. The time and money you guys spend on those tanks just simply amaze me. It was his pride and joy to own that tank. He had his as a stress reliever. When I lived with him, I have to admit that I would just spend hrs just enjoy the beauty and relaxation it gave me. There's no way in hell I could maintain one to this day on. My hats goes off to you and Jimmy, the ex roommate .
The first 6 months are the hardest. It gets way easier from there, much like the RC hobby. All of your money is upfront and from there it's just maintaining. I spend way less on this tank than I do on the RC hobby lol.