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Kalk Overdose - PH > 12, Alk > 14.8 16 Days Later


TheClark
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TLDR;  I massively overdosed my system with Kalk due to carelessness.  Despite record setting (for me) params in PH and Alk, pretty much everything is fine.  Epic charts below... 

 

Details

==================

Sharing in case it happens to someone else and it is quite interesting to me that things turned out the way they did.

Had a brilliant idea while swapping out my reactor media a couple of weeks ago. 

Let's get the kalk reactor back online.  Oh shoot, my peristaltic for the dedicated kalk outlet is down.  I will just run it with topoff peristaltic instead.  Pretty common right?

So I hooked it up to the ATO line and got busy swapping the reactor media out of the reactor.

Problem is I did not copy over all the APEX failsafe settings from the dedicated kalk outlet though.  It has time limits, and PH limits to prevent an overdose.  The ATO failsafes are quite a bit different.

So, while changing the reactor, this of course took water out of the system, and the ATO turned on, and kalk reactor came into play.

Unnoticed by me of course.  A bit later, I stepped back for a moment, and the tank was cloudy. 

That's weird!

PH was reading over 12 in a very short time... UH OH!

Google to the rescue.  This response from RHF was the best:

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/help-kalk-overload.196677/

I ended up adding 9, yes 9 cups of vinegar to the system.

Warned my son, I probably killed everything, not much we can do (his system is tied into mine).  The article did give hope though...

As expected, the Alk was off the charts, but this was to be expected per the link above due to the kalk suspended in the water affecting the test.

So I patiently waited for days, alk eventually went so high it could not be tested at all.   I checked with red sea and Triton, nothing could read alk.

Trident displays 0.0 in this case, reefbot fails because the colors never change.

Finally last night I dumped in the 10th cup of vinegar. Finally, the APEX could read alk again!  I was at 14.8 or so...  Tonight it is 14.79.

Of course, both the CR and Kalk are offline, going to let it slowly recede.  Maybe some vinegar here and there.

You would think it would be a coral bloodbath.  A ghost town, and RTN massive bleaching event.

Coral surprisingly looks quite good.  A plate coral and a stylophora are showing stress, that's it.

 

12.1 PH Spike Followed By 9 cups of vinegar:

image.png

 

 

 

Alk goes 14.7 plus, then finally 0 on trident.

 

image.png

 

Turns into this:

 

image.png

 

 

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, TheClark said:

I will just run it with topoff peristaltic instead.

That's where I knew what the problem was :)

Glad you're getting it under control!  I have watched this lesson happen too many times to try kalk in my ato. If I ever try it, it'll be like your original plan; a dedicated pump with ample protections in place regarding timing and level sensors, etc.

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That's pretty wild the pH goes that high. I have a small 20 gallon tank at my work. Every now and then when I'm behind on top off, once I get water and kalk filled back up, it pumps kalk until I can't even see in the tank.

I always knew I was spiking pH and alk, but never imagined it could be going THAT high. I wonder how my experiences (I end up doing it monthly, probably more) compare to what you did....🤔🤔

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2 hours ago, Higher Thinking said:

That's pretty wild the pH goes that high. I have a small 20 gallon tank at my work. Every now and then when I'm behind on top off, once I get water and kalk filled back up, it pumps kalk until I can't even see in the tank.

I always knew I was spiking pH and alk, but never imagined it could be going THAT high. I wonder how my experiences (I end up doing it monthly, probably more) compare to what you did....🤔🤔

Sounds like what I did accidentally!   I am stunned that anything survived.  We fight so hard to keep alk stable.  Then this!!??  

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, TheClark said:

That's weird!

PH was reading over 12 in a very short time... UH OH!

...

I ended up adding 9, yes 9 cups of vinegar to the system.

I'm curious, how long between the excessive Kalk addition, and adding the 9 cups of vinegar?

I've killed a tank with Kalk overdose, and didn't recover.  About 2006-2007.

  • In that setup, the Kalk reactor was not monitored by Apex.  Just fixed timer, add ~2gallons of kalk water every night.
  • The reactor itself required unhooking the infeed/outflow hoses to refill it.
  • One night, around 11pm, at the end of a long Aquarium Move weekend, I refilled with fresh Kalk.  (yes, this part is Double sad)
  • About one full cup of Kalk powder goes into the reactor.  Hook it all up.  Go To Bed.
  • Wake up in the morning to Dead Acro smell.   Find whole tank Coral and Fish soup.    99% dead.
  • Root caused to, put the inflow hose on the outflow connector.  Put the outflow hose on the inflow connector.  Pumped 1 cup of freshly mixed Kalk Slurry (the bottom of the reactor) straight into the tank in a single night.

99% dead, one thing survived.  An Ugly Pajama Cardinal.  Yup, Still have him - he was the first fish I moved into the new 250 gallon setup.   >15 years old now.

The double sad part.   I'd bought a new tank and was ready to upgrade.   Spent the whole weekend tearing down old tank, and re-setting up in the garage as livestock holding tank - so I could install the new tank.  Whole weekend == Sat & Sunday.  Friends helping.  Long days.   "One night, around 11pm..." == Sunday night.    Monday, tore the tank back down.

It took a few weeks to install, plumb and reconnect the new display tank.  It's the tank I removed early October, to upgrade to the new 250gal.

Glad you caught your overdose, and thank you for sharing the experience and the R2R link.  Keep us posted how the tanks react.

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3 hours ago, obrien.david.j said:

I'm curious, how long between the excessive Kalk addition, and adding the 9 cups of vinegar?

 

The first 4 cups were within 10 minutes of the overdose, system is about 500 gallons.  After that, waited, watched PH.  Kept at it.

Today my alk is dropping rapidly, perhaps too rapidly.  14.17 Just now.  Might bring the CR back on line with high effluent PH just to slow down the drop.  

I feel like an idiot sometimes in this hobby.  Honestly it stinks to share these stories, but figure it will help the collective reefing group.  I don't even pretend to be perfect, this is a challenging hobby, we are all elite to achieve success at any level!

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This is a really interesting experiment. Looks like you rapidly corrected the pH but are leaving the alk extremely high, and reducing it slowly. Do I have that right? 

I think I would have also rapidly adjusted the alk back down, for the same reason as the pH (better to get it back within range quickly rather than let the damage accumulate). But I can see arguments in both directions. 

I am not sure which course would be better - I'll be curious to hear how your corals do over the next couple weeks. 

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24 minutes ago, EMeyer said:

This is a really interesting experiment. Looks like you rapidly corrected the pH but are leaving the alk extremely high, and reducing it slowly. Do I have that right? 

I think I would have also rapidly adjusted the alk back down, for the same reason as the pH (better to get it back within range quickly rather than let the damage accumulate). But I can see arguments in both directions. 

I am not sure which course would be better - I'll be curious to hear how your corals do over the next couple weeks. 

For sure, an unplanned experiment.

Good to know, I like the discussion for sure. 

Not sure why I went this route.  Probably because I am allergic to rapid alk down swings!  

By the seat of my pants for sure at this point.

 

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Wow Jeremy - glad you caught that right away.  I'm thinking the quick buffering of the pH swing hopefully saved you.  It is interesting, however, that the giant Alk spike has so far proved uneventful for the coral - thankfully!

I have always been curious how people who dose kalk as part of an ATO setup manage the controls on that since evaporation rate isn't constant.  I could see having the emergency timers and pH safety checks but how do you manage to keep things consistent within those and still achieve correct volume (salinity) control?  That conundrum always made me nervous...

Glad it seems to be working out and thanks for sharing as a precautionary tale!

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22 hours ago, TheClark said:

I feel like an idiot sometimes in this hobby.  Honestly it stinks to share these stories, but figure it will help the collective reefing group.  I don't even pretend to be perfect, this is a challenging hobby, we are all elite to achieve success at any level!

This hobby occasionally humbles us all. While reading your documentation of this event, what occurred to me again and again was:

  1. The courage it takes to share what could have been (and may yet be, but hopefully not) a catastrophic decision.
  2. Your willingness to share it so that we all may learn from it.
  3. The support you're receiving from this remarkable community.

I sincerely hope that you and your system and animals make it through this situation unscathed. And cheers to that! 🍻

 

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Updates:

- Alk has dropped rapidly, almost 2.0 dkh in 3.5 days.

- All but the plate corals seem to be doing ok

- Some coral is showing rapid growth

- I plan to lower the reactor PH to slow the drop as we near 12.0

It is a relief to be getting back to an acceptable range, even if on the high end.

 

image.png

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34 minutes ago, albertareef said:

Glad to hear it's looking like you avoided the worst fallout.  Hopefully the plates will perk back up eventually as well.

Thanks Sean.  Secretly I am hoping they will partially die off, then recover with a baby plate factory!  So cool!!

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Quick Update:

- Plate corals lost flesh, probably goners but will hold out hope for babies.

- Pretty much everything else looks good

- Alk is in the high 10s range

 

Glad to have some decent survival pics to share

 

(A beauty from @Gil&Fin growing well, with the massive hydno in the back)

IMG-7188.jpg

 

Big old torch coral that serves as a host for an old, old clown.

IMG-7190.jpg

 

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31 minutes ago, jsawyers33 said:

Glad it looks as though the tank isn't too bad off and thanks for sharing your experience.  Any idea what the name of the coral you got from @Gil&Fin?  That color is so different than most out there and very beautiful

Thanks!  Same, so glad it turned out ok so far.

No, sorry, she did not recall the name when we picked it up.  Its a birds nest of some type, with purple polyps, and a green base.

 

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On 12/28/2020 at 3:34 PM, jsawyers33 said:

Glad it looks as though the tank isn't too bad off and thanks for sharing your experience.  Any idea what the name of the coral you got from @Gil&Fin?  That color is so different than most out there and very beautiful

 

On 12/28/2020 at 4:07 PM, TheClark said:

Thanks!  Same, so glad it turned out ok so far.

No, sorry, she did not recall the name when we picked it up.  Its a birds nest of some type, with purple polyps, and a green base.

 

That is some sort of birdsnest...hard to tell from the picture, but it could have been one of the ORA Bird of Paradise.  It looks great, Jeremy!

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