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Thread: CHEAP DIY calcium, alk and magnesium

  1. #1
    Registered User SpaceOps's Avatar

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    CHEAP DIY calcium, alk and magnesium

    Mods, can this be made into a sticky for a while? Winter is here and the supplies needed to make the DIY calcium and magnesium are readily available.

    For people interested in raising stony corals, this is the time of year to stock up on quality supplies for pennies on the dollar compared to commercially available equivalents sold by reef suppliers.

    This info is based on the Randy Holmes-Farley DIY formula for calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium supplements.

    CALCIUM: Sam's Club has a 5 gallon bucket of Excel 97% pure Calcium Chloride pellets for about $20. Because of its high purity, you'll use only 400 grams per gallon of solution instead of the 500g used in the Holmes-Farley recipe. One bucket will make 57 gallons of solution, which should last several years in most reef aquariums.

    The alkalinity solution is made from regular baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) that you find in trhe grocery store, or baked baking soda (sodium carbonate). You use one or the other depending on your tank's average pH trends (See the article).

    The preferred magnesium supplement (see Holmes-Farley magnesium recipe 3A) is made of a combination of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), readily available at most grocery stores like Wally World), and a type of pure ice melt salt called magnesium chloride hexahydrate. Right now, Costco has a huge bag of SafeStep 8300 Ice Melt for about $20. It's pure Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate. One 50# bag will literally last you a decade.

    Using these two ice melts, along with baking soda and Epsom salts, will allow you to dose the H-F recipe for less than $2 per month, compared to using the overpriced commercial 2-part supplements at $40 a month.

    Here's the Holmes-Farley article. http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-02/rhf/index.php

    The calculator for adding them is here: http://reef.diesyst.com/flashcalc/flashcalc.html. The calculator also provides warnings about the water chemistry changes that can occur if you add each solution too quickly. Adjustments should always be made slowly.
    Last edited by SpaceOps; 11-12-2012 at 10:10 AM.
    Northernmost SPS aquarium in the US.

  2. #2
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    Good idea

    Maybe we should have money saving tips section on the forum. Thanks for posting this.

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    Does anyone know of other places that this stuff can be purchased? I've looked at do it best and foxworth here in Woodland Park, but not able to find these specific kinds. Is there anyone that is going to get any of these that would be willing to pick some up for me. I need the SafeStep 8300 Ice Melt for now. Have enough calcium jugs left over still to last for awhile.
    Last edited by rye_84; 11-15-2012 at 11:38 AM.

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    grocery stores like Wally World theres one of those in woodland park i was there 4 days ago :P

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    they have 3-4 types of icemelter back by automotive give it a peek see whats there

  6. #6
    Registered User SpaceOps's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by rye_84 View Post
    Does anyone know of other places that this stuff can be purchased? I've looked at do it best and foxworth here in Woodland Park, but not able to find these specific kinds. Foxworth carries zero ice which is magnesium chloride, potassium chloride and sodium chloride and do it best has safestep 6300. Is there anyone that is going to get any of these that would be willing to pick some up for me. I need the SafeStep 8300 Ice Melt for now. Have enough calcium jugs left over still to last for awhile.
    I'd be very careful about mentioning products like Zero Ice and SafeStep 6300 that could easily KILL OFF YOUR ENTIRE TANK! For people reading this thread, the products rye84 mentioned are NOT suitable for use in your tank.

    Ace Hardware may carry SafeStep 8300. They carried it a couple years ago and it worked great in my tank.

    As far as calcium chloride, I can't recommend any other CaCl2 products because I haven't researched them.
    Last edited by SpaceOps; 11-15-2012 at 08:51 AM.
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  7. #7
    Village Idiot greaseballpaul's Avatar

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    Thank you space for this post. I'm just starting out so paying 1/20th of this expense is a MASSIVE break for me.

  8. #8
    Registered User SpaceOps's Avatar

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    Be sure to read the article in the thread in the first post. As with any additives, never add something if you don't check the values in the tank first. It's also worth knowing what you can and can't add in large quantities. Some additives will shock your tank if you add too much too quickly.
    Northernmost SPS aquarium in the US.

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