Kalkwasser+vinegar dosing?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by bondolo, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    For the first year or so I had tanks I manually dosed Kalk and Magnesium. I rarely had pH over 8.2 because of sloppiness and forgetfulness. Calcium levels were all over the place.

    A year ago I got a couple of dosers and started dosing Alk / Cal using the BRS Recipe #1. My calcium and alkalinity are fairly stable but pH doesn't get above 8.1-8.2 with this dosing and I would like to raise it a bit.

    I'm considering adding automated Kalk dosing to raise the pH. Rather than using dilute kalk with top-off water I plan to use concentrated kalk + vinegar according to the recipe in this article Randy Holmes-Farley ReefKeeping : What your grandmother didn't tell you about lime I'll start with 20ml/day during the middle of the night and adjust up as long as my pH is below 8.4

    Anyone else doing kalk dosing? Kalk+vinegar for better management and added carbon? I am totally scared off of kalk top-off by bad experiences I have seen reported. I'm not likely to switch to Ca reactor any time soon (unless I were to wake up one day and find one sitting under the Christmas tree).


    Today: Calcium, & Alkalinity (Baking Soda) automated dosing, Magnesium & Iodine manual dosed once a week.

    Plan: Calcium, Alkalinity (Baking Soda) & concentrated Kalk+Vinegar automated dosing, Magnesium & Iodine manual dosed once a week.
  2. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    There might be a simpler solution.
    I notice you use baking soda for Alkalinity dosing.
    Consider switching to Soda Ash instead. That should raise your PH a bit.
    You can probably find the detailed chemical differences online.
  3. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    Ah, yes, clarification. What goes into my doser solution is Sodium Carbonate aka soda ash aka "baked baking soda". I buy Arm & Hammer baking soda at Costco and bake it myself 200F for 90 minutes stirring once. Sodium Carbonate is much easier to dissolve than Sodium Bicarbonate.
  4. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

  5. xulio

    xulio Supporting Member


    All my top-off is Kalk (no Vinager) and I dose a 2 part Calcium solution. I can't get my Ph to fall below 8.3 but it is pretty stable there.

  6. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Hey Mike,
    I was having trouble keeping my Alk stable and added a Kalk reactor about 5-6 weeks ago. It raises my PH from approx 8.4 to 8.5. I dose Vinegar to keep it around 8.4 and it is working quite well. I did a LOT of research before I started this (cause lots of people told me not too......however I never really figured out why they felt it was a bad idea).......soooooo.

    After 5-6 weeks I have come up with a dose that is working really great for my tank. Not sure it is less labor intensive as I now add Kalk to the reactor every other day. This seems to keep a good balance of a stable alk with a PH around 8.4. Nitrates and Phosphates have dropped a tiny bit, but nothing significant. I am not dosing vinegar in large quantities. I am mainly dosing it to keep the PH in a good range. Skimmer production is slightly better, but my skimmer is a BEAST and has always pulled a lot out, so it's difficult to tell if it is really better now.

    Here is what I am doing now......your system is different, so this is just an example.

    Using a GEO Kalk reactor............ I add 1.5 Table spoons of "Mrs Wages Pickled Lime." with 3 Table spoons of Vinegar. This is added to the reactor filled with RO water. Top off pump doses the tank. After adding this I wait until around 5-6pm when the PH is at it's highest and I add 1/2 cup of vinegar directly to the sump. The PH at this point is usually about 8.46...........this drops it to approx 8.4 again. I dose 1/2 cup vinegar on the off day as well........also around 5-6pm. I estimate my total system volume between 380-400gallons.

    My alk remains incredibly stable at 7.9-8.2. Corals have MUCH improved color and growth. The reading I have done seems to feel a lower Alk......in the 7.5-8.2 range is more appropriate with any carbon dosing. I am still dosing Mag, but haven't had to dose Calcium at all. Which sucks cause I already bought a calcium reactor and haven't even set it up. :( I am pretty sure on this big system I will need it eventually though.

    I don't empty the reactor (I haven't yet). The articles I have read seem to believe leaving the Sediment at the bottom of the reactor helps to pull any impurities out of the Kalk so you are dosing the purest lime water possible. My reactor uses a Maxi-jet 1200..........so it has no problem mixing, even with the sediment. I plan to empty it soon though. Prolly be an every 6-8 week thing.

    I am very pleased so far. It hasn't been that difficult and I have seen an amazing change in the tank. I am NOT necessarily dosing the vinegar as a carbon source, however am watching closely for the possible benefits and may slowly increase my dose to see a difference. I am considering a dosing pump to make it easier and more consistant.

    I am new to it as well, so don't have all the answers. I am taking it slow and being very good about watching my parameters for any significant changes. Hope this helps.
  7. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    Very good info Kris. Your system is much larger than mine. I'm thinking quantities less than a quarter what you are using.

    How did you decide on the amount of vinegar to add in the kalk reactor vs how much to add directly? Why not add all of the vinegar to the reactor?
  8. xulio

    xulio Supporting Member


    In case you haven't seen it , check out: http://reefkeeping.com/joomla/index.php/current-issue/article/116-vinegar-dosing-methodology-for-the-marine-aquarium. At the bottom there is a link from an old article from Craig Bingman that talks about amounts to add. Maybe you can make an educated guess based on that.

  9. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Well Mike.......

    That is a very good question. Because there wasn't a strait forward answer as to how much to mix and dose. I just started very small. Clearly the 3 table spoons of vinegar added with the kalk does not keep the ph down. However it seems adding vinegar to the kalk mixture (if i understand correctly) helps the kalk dissolve / settle better as well as making it more readily usable to the aquarium. I'm adding it to the reactor based on this...... Adding to the tank to adjust the ph. I will look at my bookmarks and see if I can find the article that have me this idea and send you a link. It might work to add more to the reactor and let it dose itself, but I feel more comfortable adding as needed. If the ph doesn't spike, then I don't have to add it. 1/2 cup drops the ph up to a full point in about a half hour. I also prefer not to dose the vinegar after the lights go out and the ph drops naturally. Trying to keep the swings as minimal as possible. Hope that makes sense.

    It will also depend on how much top off water you need each day. My large system tops off a lot. Therefor dosing a lot. So I try not to make the kalk too potent. So to NOT answer your question.... My first dose was a total guess. Lol! I added 3 table spoons to the reactor with no vinegar and my ph went to 8.6 in a matter of hours. Used vinegar (and blew into my skimmer....for real) to drop it back down. Adjusted the dose and eventually got to this regimen that has worked for at least a month now.
  10. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Hey Mike,

    So the Randy Holmes-Farley article was one of the ones I was looking at. Here is another that helped me understand a little more. http://www.reefscapes.net/articles/breefcase/kalkwasser.html Pretty sure I had found a couple others that were helpfull, and some threads on RC, but didn't bookmark them.
  11. Mike, just a couple quick thoughts:

    If your goal is to raise pH and you aren't having a problem with nutrients, is it necessary to add vinegar into the mix?

    You may find, depending on the uptake by your tank inhabitants, that once you start dosing kalk you won't need as much sodium carbonate to maintain KH. Kalk is actually quite inefficient as a method of increasing calcium, so you will probably need to continue dosing calcium chloride.

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