It’s been a week since Reef-A-Palooza California and I want to share a quick thought from one of the presentations I attended. The presentation was by Lou Ekus of Tropic Marin, it was titled Breaking Down the Reef Chemistry Wall. Lou is like me – we both like to break down complicated topics to try to make them easier to understand. He did an excellent job of presenting the basic building blocks of the reef aquarium.

One idea that was emphasized multiple times throughout the presentation was that reefers should never look at just one parameter when there’s an issue with their water chemistry. We need to take in to account all the other parameters and how they’re each interconnected.

One example was of the relationship between alkalinity and pH. Alkalinity Lou said is like pH “in reserve.” When the tank’s pH level drops, the alkalinity will also drop because the carbonates in the tank are being broken down to increase pH. When either pH or alkalinity drops, you can expect to see the other drop as well.

Calcium and alkalinity are also connected, but in an inverse relationship – when one is high the other is low and vice versa. High phosphates or magnesium will prevent calcium-MACNA2019carbonate crystals from forming and will affect alkalinity. These are just a few of the many interlocking chemical relationships in a reef aquarium.

Aquarium Water Testing records the parameters in an aquarium and builds a historical graph for customers to track water chemistry over time. After you’ve tested with us a few times, you can start to see how individual parameters relate to one another.

Hopefully this was helpful and if you want more of Lou’s presentation, he’ll be speaking on a similar topic at MACNA in Orlando on Saturday at 3:00. Hope to see you there!