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How to Respond to a Kalk Overdose

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Given the several occurrences of kalk overdoses we've seen in the last few months, this advice from RHF that I read on RC today seemed worth capturing here:

***
The following important points should help in dealing with a limewater overdose:

1. Don't panic! These overdoses do not usually cause a tank to crash.

2. The primary concern is pH. If the pH is 8.6 or lower, you need not do anything. If the pH is above 8.6, then reducing the pH is the priority. Direct addition of vinegar or soda water is a good way to accomplish this goal. Either one mL of distilled white vinegar, or six mL of soda water, per gallon of tank water will give an initial pH drop of about 0.3 pH units. Add either to a high flow area that is away from organisms (e.g., a sump).

3. Do not bother to measure calcium or alkalinity while the tank is cloudy. The solid calcium carbonate particles will dissolve in an alkalinity test, and all of the carbonate in them will be counted as if it were in solution and part of "alkalinity." The same may happen to some extent with calcium tests. Wait until the water clears, and at that point, alkalinity is more likely to be low than high. Calcium will likely be mostly unchanged.

4. The particles themselves will typically settle out and disappear from view over a period of 1-4 days. They do not appear to cause long term detrimental effects to tank organisms.

5. Water changes are not necessarily beneficial or needed in response to a limewater overdose.

***

He cites this article as where this advice was given: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-07/rhf/index.php

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Thanks. If it went sticky (or even not), I wish I'd made the title, "How to Respond to a Kalk Overdose." That way, somebody in trouble seeking advice could zero in on it quickly. (Mods, can you help me out here? Thanks.)

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Who knew white vinegar would become such an important item in the reef keepers arsenal....

 

Certainly not me, that's for sure.

 

I'm hoping we don't see a bunch of reverse kalk overdose issues.

 

I am not saying RHF's points are not accurate and mine are better.

I just do not trust this method as a clear cut way to address a kalk overdose issue that we are seeing here on WAMAS. Too much risk in my eyes.

Obviously, there's a reason your pH drops so fast.

Persipitation, and likely uncontrolled as it continues. Plus the opportunity to "burn" many occupants in our tanks. Vinegar is really acid, like 2.9 or less and though to dilute with water.

 

Bear in mind, we did not see this amount of posts related to kalk OD until it was posted to add several cups or more at a shot which equaled a month or more useage.

Not even in '04 when we had the first WAMAS kalk reactor making party.

 

I still maintain to never add more than a weeks worth of kalk and keep adding maybe twice a week to keep it stocked, but IMO not over stocked.

You will maintain a better pH.

Also, the delivery method has a great deal to prevent. A whole other topic in itself.

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I still maintain to never add more than a weeks worth of kalk and keep adding maybe twice a week to keep it stocked, but IMO not over stocked.

You will maintain a better pH.

Also, the delivery method has a great deal to prevent. A whole other topic in itself.

 

I wholeheartedly agree. Prevention is the best approach. Make it so that if your delivery method fails (or even if your kalk stirrer fell over dumping its entire contents into your sump) you're not screwed.

 

On the other hand, if you find yourself in a bad way, maybe this advice can help minimize losses.

Edited by Origami2547

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Another way to address PH problems during a Kalk dump is to use CO2. I managed to dump a bunch of Kalk in my old tank and the water got cloudy etc.. I took the CO2 bottle off of my calcium reactor and put several shots of CO2 into the air intake of my skimmer. Fortunately for me I caught the problem early enough and the worst PH problem was in my sump which was conveniently where my skimmer and PH probe was as well. I just kept adding shots of CO2 until the PH came back down to about 8.3. Fortunately everything survived.

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For prevention, Chip's advice is about as foolproof as you can get in this hobby.

 

One thing I would add as far as advice on dealing with an existing problem is to cut back dramatically on water flow. I found that when I failed to do this, all the Kalk stayed in solution and the Ph remained high. My tank was basically one big Kalk reactor. When I turned off the CL and Powerheads and just left the return on, the Kalk settled out and the Ph dropped in a few hours. Turning the pumps back on too soon caused Kalk powder to go back into solution and the Ph went right back up.

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I have always been very nervous about adding kalk as part of your top off scheme.  The chances for overdose are just too high.  I think the best was not to have an overdose is to avoid this practice in the first place.  I think the kalk should be added in an overflow style system using a dosing pump.

 

I have outlined they way I set this up here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5QJJLprX7aQclZsN2pyLU1zTU0/view

 

Hope this saves someone from a crash,

Bruce

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