Caring for our aquariums, we often run into any number of
problems that may be resolved with time and water changes, but at times it
may require a chemical solution instead. This webpage is designed to show
you some of the products that I have used in the past 8 years, and what types
of results I obtained, if any at all. Remember, what you choose to dose in
your tank may produce negative results and thus it may be best to remain patient
and not dose a particular product.
There usually are no quick solutions: Nothing good ever
happens fast in a reef tank.
Some products are used regularly - maintaining good
water parameters; or as an absorber to improve water quality.
ESV's B-Ionic - This product maintains
Alkalinity, Calcium and pH levels when dosed daily. It is recommended
to dose it early in the morning when pH is at its lowest, and it should
be dosed slowly in an area of high flow.
When I dosed my 29g and my 55g, I would pour the correct dose of Part
1 very slowly over 15 seconds. Once done, repeat with Part 2 the exact
same way. If it is dumped in at once, the concentrated solution is super
saturated in one spot temporarily and may even precipate out of the
water - which would make the dose ineffective or even defunct. I used
B-Ionic for 2 years with excellent results, and it will definitely promote
coralline algae growth.
To the left, you can see quart bottles of each part. This is the best
way to dose the tank, using the small dosing cups that come with them.
So buy a set from your LFS or online. However, purchasing it by the
gallon or even the five gallon bucket saves you the most money. I would
either buy it by the bucket for myself, or share the buckets' volume
with a couple of people in our club to spread out the cost of product
and shipping. Refilling the quart bottles once a month worked great.
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C-Balance - Similar to B-Ionic, it accomplishes
the same task. I used it for many months and it did what was expected
of it. The reason I used it? I won it in the club raffle. Why did I stop?
I had plenty of B-Ionic so I resumed using that instead.
Boyd Enterprises' ChemiClean - This
product is designed to remove Cyano Bacteria. Cyano is often referred
to as red algae, but since it is actually bacteria in nature, it has
to be resolved a little differently. If you prefer to avoid using a
product in your tank, increase the flow in the area where cyano grows,
do water changes, skim well, and double check the age of your bulbs.
Over a period of a few weeks, it will die off. Using a turkey baster,
you can blow it off the rock and corals, and with flexible tubing it
can be siphoned out of your tank. I have waited it out for weeks before,
and it did go away.
I have used ChemiClean many times, and never lost any livestock at
all. The product is great. Mix it well up in a cup of RO water, using
the correct dosage for your tank, and pour it in an area of high flow.
Turn off the protein skimmer for 48 hours. Within 24 hours, all cyano
should be dead and gone. Its main ingredient is erythromycin (I think),
and this kills off the bacteria as promised. It is recommended to change
20% of the water after the treatment has concluded. With the skimmer
being off, it might be wise to hook up an airpump and put an airstone
in the display area of the tank to maintain good oxygenation. Running
carbon after treating would be wise.
Carbon - running carbon actively will
yield good results in water clarity, and absorb some things from the
water. If you've treated your tank with another product to solve a problem,
running fresh carbon should remove that product now. Or if your soft
corals are slumping over, carbon may remove some of the chemicals corals
exude in 'chemical warfare.' They should perk right back in within a
I only run carbon 3 days per month, and believe running it longer is
ineffective. Carbon can only absorb so much and after that it may simply
become a nitrate bed instead. If it is tossed in a small mesh bag in
the sump (passive filtration), it will not work as well as it
would in a canister filter or some other system that forces water through
it (active filtration). The Phosban reactor is a nice choice
to run carbon. I recommend you read
this article to get more insight about using carbon.
And remember: Charcoal is for grilling, carbon is for filtering.
Algone - This one is new to me, but
it promises to clear up a cloudy tank. I'm using it to lower nitrates
in my reef tank. Each box contains 6 little pillows that you can float
in your sump in an area of good flow.
Each pouch is designed to handle up to 200g of water. The jury is out
on this one currently (September 2005).
Kent Nitrate Sponge - A one pound container
of these granules will treat a 50g aquarium, and it really works. I
put half a pound in one canister filter, and half a pound in another
one, and let it run for 48 hours. It brought nitrates way down. Once
the time has elapsed, remove it from your system to avoid it releasing
back into the water.
Do I recommend this as a chemical solution? If your test numbers are
sky high - yes. However, you must remove what is creating them in the
first place. Please read
this article, and resolve those issues first. Once that is done,
big water changes will usually solve the problem better than using a
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Kent Phosphate Sponge - Similar to Kent's
Nitrate Sponge, this granular product will remove phosphate. When my
tank tested 2.0, I used this product in a canister filter. 48 hours
later, PO4 tested at .2ppm - quite a substatial drop, right? Remove
this product promptly to avoid it from releasing the PO4 back into the
This product is aluminum-based, and leathers will respond poorly to
it. Mine shrunk down for about 3 weeks before it recovered. I won't
use it again. (Aluminum-based)
CaribSea's Phosbuster Pro - Liquid Gold!
Yeah, I sound like a salesman. :) I used a lot of products trying to
bring the PO4 levels down in my 280g reef, and nothing was working well
enough. This product is a flocculant, and what it does is convert phosphate
into a fine dust particle that can be trapped with filtration or exported
with a good protein skimmer. I dosed my tank several times with it,
and readings have dropped from 3.0 to .1ppm When treating, I chose
to use it at night when the fish were asleep (rather than when they
are most active) just in case it was an irritant to their gills.
Phosbuster Pro can lower alkalinity in the water, so be sure to measure
that level before dosing. CaribSea recommends raising aklalinity 10
minutes before dosing, which I did. My tank runs around 11 dKH, and
my livestock did fine. (I did have one mandarin die the day after dosing,
but the other three were still fine and picking through the rockwork.
Another time one peppermint shrimp died, but the rest of them were fine.
Could be coincidence - I don't know.) Would I use this again when necessary?
Yes. It works, and if I do suffer a loss or two, that is far less than
the losses of corals that will die from higher phosphate concentrations
in my tank.
If you have a Yellow Tang, you might be wise to remove that
fish from the tank before dosing. CaribSea is aware of a number of yellow
tangs dying after the tank was treated.
Two Little Fishies' Phosban - About
two years ago, everyone was excited to order a "phosban reactor"
for about $35 online. I mean, everyone was ordering, and people were
on waiting lists. It was crazy. I didn't even know what the big deal
was. The phosban reactor is a clear acrylic container that you can hang
on your tank or sump, which you'd fill up with Phosban - a fine powdery
substance that absorbs phosphate from the water. The reason it was so
popular was because it would force water through the media and didn't
cost a fortune. A very small powerhead is all that is needed, moving
no more than 90gph through it. It really does work well, and the Phosban
Reactor has become a great tool for hobbyists needing to run other products
as well, such as Carbon.
Each reactor is rated for 150g, and the container of Phosban treats
about the same. Buying Phosban in buckets is cheaper than the smaller
individual containers. I use two Phosban
Reactors on my 280g reef, and they are doing the job now that the
levels are lowered to something they can handle. FYI, the newest reactor
is much easier to open and close, as the entire top twists off in a
quarter turn, and has elbows where the tubing connects. This is a major
improvement from the older model that had 10 or more screws holding
the lid down, and nipples pointing straight up to receive the necessary
tubing (which you can see in the linked picture above).
Once the reactor has been filled and sealed, it would be wise to run
3g of RO water through it in the sink, to wash out the "fines"
(red dust) so that it doesn't release these in your tank or sump. I
also stuff a little polyester padding in the top of my reactor to keep
the larger fines from escaping.
This is a good product that doesn't really have negatives. It has to
be replaced when it clumps up, which may be as much as 60 days later.
ROWAphos - Similar to Phosban, this
product should be used in a fluidize reactor. ROWAphos arrives in a
sealed container and is rather moist. It looks like a jar of rust which,
in essence, it is. I've used it in the past and am currently using it.
A large container is $65 online and treats about 450g, which is rather
expensive compared to the amount of Phosban you get in a bucket.
You need to rinse out ROWAphos. It is recommended to slow down
the flow to the point that what is coming out of the fluidized reactor
produces a 0 phosphate reading. What I do is set up the reactor in my sump, let it run
very slowly in a bucket next to the sump until the effluent comes out clear. After about 3 gallons
have collected, it is ready to drain into the sump itself. (Iron-based)
Tunze Silphos - I used this product
for several weeks, and it worked okay. Perhaps if I'd continued to use
it in larger quantities, I may have had better results. You must rinse
it very well, and even after you do that, once you hook it up (this
is the method Tunze recommends), it will release a red cloud in
You can use it un-rinsed if you have to bring PO4 down quickly, but
expect your tank to look like the surface of Mars in a sand storm.
Yes, I did that once
and it was a tad scary. However, the next day all looked perfectly fine.
One container will fill up the filter basket two times, and I used
two containers worth trying to bring PO4 levels down in my tank.
Silphos will also reduce silicates in the water as well. (Iron-based)
Salifert's Flatworm eXit - This product
will kill flatworms. I've used it when necessary, and suffered no losses.
Please be sure to read
this page several times, and if you follow my guidelines you should
have success as well. The product will not hurt your livestock, but
dying flatworms release toxin that will. READ
my guidelines, PLEASE.
I've used this product a few times, always with great results. It would
be wise to always have this on hand for any new arrivals. Just add two
or three drops to the bag holding the new frag or coral, and let it
do its thing as the coral is floating during acclimation. If any flatworms
were present, they'll be dead. Rinse the coral in a container of tank
water, shaking off any hidden flatworms, and place in your tank without
fear. Being proactive in this regard will keep your system flatworm
CaribSea's Purple Up - This product
contains the necessary elements to increase coralline algae growth in
your tank. I've used it a few times and it works. It will not create
it from nothing - but it will encourage growth if there is any coralline
in your tank.
I've used it a few times now, and in addition to healthy water with
proper seawater levels, coralline is now growing on the back wall of
my tank rapidly.
Joe's Juice is a product made specifically
to kill aiptasia
majanos in your reef tank. The product is easy to use. I've been
told in Europe, hobbyists are getting great results with this product.
Shake it up well, then fill the syringe. I turn off the pumps in my
tank during application, and then slowly depress the plunger to drop
a small pile on the mouth area of the aiptasia. Try not to frighten
the glass anemone by touching it, so that it will simply close up over
the food and injest it.
For best results, be vigilant and feed them daily until you can't find
any at all. If you only do this once a week or once a month, the problem
will never be resolved.
New tips (see picture) may be purchased separately to get to those
that aren't easily accessible.
Pickling Lime is another product used
to kill aiptasia. Actually, I think we've pretty much tried anything
we can get our hands on in that battle. ;)
Pickling Lime can be used for kalkwasser, which many opt to use to
top off their tanks to replace what has evaporated. Usually 1 to 2 teaspoons
per gallon is about right. I add a rounded teaspoon of powder for each
gallon of RO/DI water, and mix it well. After it has settled for one
hour, I'll start to drip it into my sump, in an area of good flow so
it can mix in and be pumped back up to the tank. Be sure not to disturb
or add any of the sediment at the base of the top off container.
Kalkwasser has a pH of 12, which is why it is recommended to drip
it into your tank rather than pouring it in at once. Such high pH
will burn some corals and possibly hurt the gills of fish, so be wise
and use precautions. When setting up your system, it would be smart
to limit any potential disaster by only mixing it in small amounts.
A couple of gallons won't hurt your tank where a full 35g trashcan might,
if it all added at once due to human error or mechanical failure. For
years, I've avoided using it because I've read about tank after tank
being decimated due to a huge accidental overdose. So be careful, and
control the worst case senario. If you do that, you'll have nothing
to worry about. Ball's Pickling Lime or Mrs Wages are both safe.
For my tank, I have 6g mixed up at a time, and if it all dumped into
the 280g reef, pH would only rise to 8.45 - not a problem. Kalkwasser
helps maintain pH, alkalinity and calcium levels cheaply. Supplemental
I hope this information helps provide some answers to some common issues,
but remember results may vary. Do your homework first!