Now that our reef, the glassbox, is back up and running with corals and fish it was time to remix some Fauna Marin Balling Solutions and dial them in with the Profilux Dosing Pump. For those unfamiliar with the Balling Method, take a look at this article which explains what it is intended to do […]
Now that our reef, the glassbox, is back up and running with corals and fish it was time to remix some Fauna Marin Balling Solutions and dial them in with the Profilux Dosing Pump. For those unfamiliar with the Balling Method, take a look at this article which explains what it is intended to do and how it differs from two part. The Fauna directions are not confusing, with some simple math the proper amount of salts can be determined for any water volume.
It is important to note that the Balling method uses Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, also known as baking soda. This is an important distinction as it is roughly half as strong as Sodium Carbonate and balances with half as much Calcium Chloride. Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate also lacks the pH buffering effects that Sodium Carbonate has. For more info on this topic, see Randy Homes-Farley DIY two part article that outlines his Recipe 1 and Recipe 2. To my knowledge there should not be an issue using Sodium Carbonate with the Balling Method. (If you already have Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate and would like the stronger Sodium Carbonate, use a cookie sheet or oven safe container and cook the Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate at 300F for one hour. Be sure to increase the Calcium amount appropriately.)
Since I have not used the full line of Fauna Marin Balling Salts myself I stuck with their recommended dosing amounts for the Balling Light Method. Using a converter I calculated that I would need the following amounts for 1 gallon of Calcium and Alkalinity solutions.
- 270g CaCl (Calcium Chloride)
- 19ml Strontium-Barium Complex
- 19ml Heavy Metal Complex
- 310g NaHCO3 (Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate)
- 19ml Iodine Flouric Complex
While calculating the proper amounts you’ll need is smart so you do not waste excess salts–using a precise scale is not needed. If the solution is too strong it will precipitate out, leaving some material at the bottom of the container. If this happens, don’t fret.
As you can see I also threw in the Balling Light trace elements. These are from Fauna Marin’s Ultra Trace B line, shown in the earlier photo. The smaller bottles are 250ml, and with only 19ml used per gallon of solution they should last some time. I added these amounts after using just the Calcium Chloride and Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate solutions by themselves for one month.
I had hoped to show you all some new Balling containers by now, but a local acrylic place was unable to create what I had wanted. For now I resorted back to the trusty 1 gallong plastic container. For those looking to save a buck or two, I coincidentally realized the same exact container was used in Jewel brand Vinegar in the 1 gallon size. The container is exact, I only realized when getting it out to clean some coralline encrusted items and had it placed next to the balling containers.
With the 3 containers in hand I set up the appropriate Profilux dosing program. I have found by now that the manual timing program is really an over complication for supplemental dosing. Only when adding the obscure (e.g. Vodka, Phytoplankton, Amino Acids) would such an option be needed. The auto program is a breeze and saves many headaches by spacing the dosing times out–preventing any calcium-alkalinity precipitation events from occurring in the sump. I always opt for 24 doses a day to keep parameters as stable as possible.
60ml Alkalinity and 50ml Calcium has kept levels rock stable. The Calcium is lower due to Seachem Reef Salt’s frustratingly high calcium content. As the corals settle in the amounts dosed will need to rise. A few presses in the Profilux navigation pane and this can be done.
As expected I was not able to notice any observable differences in the tank when dosing the calcium, alkalinity and magnesium solutions (without any trace elements). However, once adding the trace elements Acropora tissues did slightly lighten with time. This is most likely due to zooxanthellae toxicity to heavy metals–one of the various effects trace elements can have. The lightening effect is and was very mild. Sidenote: Vince commented on the “open container” when using the gallon jug shown at right. Some air to escape is needed, to prevent any suction to form from the peristaltic pump. Typically a small hole drilled in the jug’s cap will do–enough to minimized evaporation while preventing vacuums.
As I have gotten more comfortable with the Fauna Marin balling line, I will switch over the Full balling method using NaCl free salt to “maintain the ionic balance”. I will also try using Sodium Carbonate to reap the pH benefits. I am not fully convinced that the full Balling Method is superior, but I will reserve judgement until I have actually tried it.