Chemical equivalents

Kanga

Retired Moderator
Joined
7 May 2007
Posts
4,576
Reaction score
23
Location
In the Koeberg blast radius
Hennie, I was wondering if you could possibly give us a short list of "generic" alternatives to the more expensive Branded Chemicals?
 
Joined
15 May 2007
Posts
2,899
Reaction score
117
Location
Bloemfontein
Hennie, I was wondering if you could possibly give us a short list of "generic" alternatives to the more expensive Branded Chemicals?
Sure :)

I only use calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity supplements, and these are what I DIY when my calcium reactor and lime dripper does not cope, so I will only comment on these three additives.

Other members are welcome to post their recipes for these, and other additives, and I will move their recipes up into this first post.

DIY Three-part Calcium, Magnesium and Alkalinity additives.

I must credit Dr. Randy Holmes-Farley for the DIY calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity additive recipes that I use. You can read his articles here and here and here for the full story, but in short:


Ingredients:
  • Calcium chloride (CaCl2) - we don't get the products here in SA which they use in the USA, and I don't particularly trust the available "industrial" grade products, so I buy chemically pure (CP) grade calcium chloride from one of the scientific chemical supply companies.
  • Magnesium chloride (MgCl2) - same as with the calcium chloride, buy from a scientific chemical supply company.
  • Magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) - buy Epsom salt (BP grade) from any chemist.
  • Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) (also known as sodium hydrogen carbonate) - buy food grade baking soda ("Koeksoda") from any grocer or chemist.
Method:
  • Calcium component:
Dissolve 132 grams (175ml) CaCl2 in one litre of RO water. This dissolves very easily, as the water heats up a bit in the process.
  • Magnesium component:
Dissolve 105 grams (120ml) MgSO4 (Epsom salt) AND 165 grams (200ml) MgCl2 in one litre of RO water. (That's BOTH salts together into one litre of water...). This also dissolves fairly easily, but will dissolve quicker if the RO water is heated to about 60°C. (Use a glass, plastic or ceramic container to heat the water, NOT a metal one).
  • Alkalinity (buffer) component:
Depending on the pH of the tank water (and on whether you want to increase or decrease the pH) one should either used normal or baked baking soda. Normal baking soda has a small initial pH reducing effect, and can drop the tank's pH by 0.1 - 0.2pH. If the baking soda is baked in an oven at about 180°C - 200°C for 1-2 hours (not critical...) it changes into sodium carbonate, which has a rather large pH increasing effect.

Dissolve either 157 grams of NaHCO3 ("normal" sodium bicarbonate) OR 99 grams of Na2CO3 (baked sodium bicarbonate) into two litre of RO water. The normal bicarb does not dissolve very easily, and you will probably have to heat the water to 60°C - 80°C before it will totally dissolve. The baked bicarb dissolves easier, but will still require some heating of the water.
Use:
  • It is important to note that the three ingredients should never be mixed, or added together. I use the baked baking soda, and dose this early in the mornings when the pH is at it's lowest. Normal baking soda should probably be dosed in the afternoon or early evening. The calcium and magnesium components can be added an hour or so apart, in the evenings if the alkalinity was added in the morning, or in the morning if the alkalinity was added in the evening.
  • Test the calcium, alkalinity and magnesium levels initially, and again after 48 hours, without adding any additives (this is to determine your daily consumption...). Use this calculator to then decide on the quantities of additives to add, but DON'T make too drastic changes - select "Randy's recipe 2" in the "Pick a Product" slots as needed, and observe the recommendations in the "pH Effects" and "Warning" boxes.
  • Calcium and magnesium can be added in rather large quantities, but one should add the alkalinity slowly, and into a high-flow area - especially if the water's pH is not monitored electronically.
  • Once the calcium, magnesium and alkalinity levels are balanced, the same volume of each additive should be added every day (or week) to keep the major ions in balance.
Hennie
 
Last edited:
Joined
15 May 2007
Posts
2,899
Reaction score
117
Location
Bloemfontein
pH calibration check solution

OK, here's another recipe - this one originally written many years ago by dr Dr. Craig Bingman, Ph.D. in Aquarium frontiers, being:

An easily made electronic pH calibration check solution.

After the demise of Aquarium Frontiers, I could not find this article on the Web, so I hope that Dr. Bingman will forgive me for quoting extracts of his original article.


A number of aquarists were reporting some very strange pH values from freshly calibrated pH monitors. They tended to be much higher than expected. There was a common thread in these stories: All of them had used a certain brand of pH 10 calibration solution. So, I went to my local pet store, bought some of this product and found that it was low by nearly one pH unit when checked with a research-quality pH meter and electrode, calibrated with fresh research-quality pH standards!In response, I proposed that people at least check their calibrations with another easily obtainable pH standard, a simple solution of borax dissolved in water.

Why can borax be used to make a pH standard? All of the NIST pH calibration solutions (the pH 4.0, 7.0 and 10.0 calibration solutions that you might buy from a scientific supply house) are made by mixing controlled quantities of an acid and conjugate base. So usually you would need to mix precise quantities of two different compounds to make a pH standard solution. However, borax has a very special property. It can be regarded as an equimolar mixture of boric acid and borate ions (with the required counter-ions and water of hydration.) So, within its crystalline structure, it has both components required to make a pH standard solution. Better still, it carries both of them in precise quantities, because if it doesn’t, it really can’t be borax.

To make the textbook standard sodium metaborate, you dissolve 3.8 grams of borax per liter of purified water. Most of you don’t have access to an accurate balance, so it won’t be simple to follow that formulation. However, it turns out that 1/2 teaspoon of solid borax weighs just about two grams (see Table). It also turns out that the pH of borax solutions is only weakly dependent on the concentration of borax in the solution. So, we don’t need to be tremendously precise in our measurement of the borax to still produce a useful pH standard.

Because 1 quart = 946.4 milliliters (ml), if we use a pint of water and add a half teaspoon of borax to it, we should have a pH standard solution with 2 grams of borax per 473 ml or 4.3 grams of borax per liter. This is within about 10 percent of the standard borax pH calibration solution, and because of the weak dependence of pH on concentration, it is close enough for our purposes. So, you should be able to use everyday kitchen measuring equipment to make this solution.

[SIZE=-1]pH of Sodium Metaborate Standard Solution at Various Temperatures
(3.80 grams Na2BO7 10H2O/liter)
[/SIZE]

[SIZE=-1]Temp - [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]pH[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]0[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C[/SIZE] - [SIZE=-1]9.464
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]5[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.395
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]10[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.332
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]15[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 9.276
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]16[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.266[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]
17[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.256
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]18[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.245
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]19[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.235
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]20[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 9.225
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]21[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.216
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]22[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.207
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]23[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.198
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]24[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.192
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]25[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.180
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]26[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.172
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]27[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.167
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]28[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.155
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]29[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.147
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]30[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.139
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]35[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 9.081
[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]40[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]°C -[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]9.068[/SIZE]

How do you use these borax solutions? Well, they have a variety of uses. First, they can be used to check a calibration that has been performed with pH standard solutions that you have obtained elsewhere. You calibrate your system, allowing it to equilibrate at both set-points, and then use a freshly mixed borax standard solution to check that calibration. You can easily spot gross errors in calibration this way.

The borax solutions can be used in a second way: To replace the high pH standard solution. For this purpose, it would be best to use reagent-grade sodium metaborate, but you can use grocery store borax at the cost of perhaps slightly degraded accuracy. There is a motivation to do this. The pH 7.0 standard solution is much more stable than the pH 10.0 standard solution, which rapidly absorbs CO2 from the air with a corresponding decrease in the pH of the standard solution.
I have used this many times in the past to check if my digital pH controller's calibration is correct, and I too, like Dr. Bingman, have found that there are some pretty inaccurate calibration standards on the market - try this recipe, and have some peace of mind :thumbup:

Hennie
 
Last edited:
Joined
7 Feb 2008
Posts
691
Reaction score
5
Location
centurion
Fantastic thread.

Where can i get chemically pure calcium chloride (CACl2) here in centurion, pretoria or midrand?
 
Joined
8 May 2007
Posts
1,473
Reaction score
3
Location
Auckland
I just use plain old Lugols iodene from the pharmacy.
 

dendrosa

Member
Joined
1 Jun 2007
Posts
298
Reaction score
3
Location
Somerset west CT
I used to have the recipes to make up titration tests for Calcium and Alk, also from Craig bingman if I'm not mistaken. Will try and find them.
 

Alan

Admin
Joined
4 May 2007
Posts
5,974
Reaction score
123
Location
KZN
Okay my additions are along these lines. Please remember that when starting these additions i checked my parameters everyday for about a week until i got the right measurement for the tank, i then checked once a week and now check the parameters every 2/3 weeks. I also have an electronic PH monitor that i check up every morning as i will be able to tell if something is askew by the ph.
Alkalinity- I use 2 tsp sodium bicarb and one tsp sodium carbonate, mixed into litre of RO water and then dripped in over an hour. The Bicarb i get from Spar(Robertsons). The carbonate i get from the chemist(washing soda BP grade). Do the additions on a daily basis.
Calcium- I get slaked lime from the chemist(BP grade) which is actually Calcium Hydroxide which is commonly known to us as Kalk. This recipe has to be approached very carefully as things can go wrong very quickly with an over dose.
I mix 2 teaspoons of kalk with 3 teaspoons of white vinegar and mix into a creamy substance( slurry) and then mix with a half litre of RO water and stir. Once it is all mixed i pour slowly into the main display infront of a recirculating pump, takes about 30 sec to pour in. The parameter here to watch very carefully is PH, you will have an initial spike but after half an hour or so it will settle again and when it does it must not be more than 2/10th's higher than it was originally. So if PH was 8.24 it must not settle higher than 8.44 Again with this start very slowly esp in the smaller systems as you could spike the PH way too high or end up adding too much calcium at once. It works and it is a cheap alternative.
 

jacquesb

Retired Moderator
Joined
29 May 2007
Posts
17,868
Reaction score
71
Location
Cape Town
OK - Hennie - even I am not a guru at all - here's my iodine solution - it might spark some debate - but what the heck ;-)

I buy Alpha concentrated Iodine Tincture from a chemist (50ml bottles). I have a previously used 250ml Iodine bottle (was commercially available iodine). I use one complete bottle of iodine (50ml) and add to that 200ml's of RO water.

I then dose every 2nd or 3rd day, +-35 to 50ml's of diluted iodine to my tank (I add it into the last compartment of my sump where my return pump is. Typically, this compartment holds about 40 litres of water - so, the iodine is diluted even further before it is pumped into my main display tank.....

I do not feed heavily at all - I feed once a day, very little (I only have 7 medium to small sized fish in my 2 metre aquarium) - and I skim a LOT. So, personally I do believe that my 4 nemmies and 40 odd hermit crabs + boxer shrimp need the extra iodine.

It's up to you to decide whether you will be dosing iodine as well. Whatever you do, please do it SLOWLY! VERY SLOWLY....
 

jacquesb

Retired Moderator
Joined
29 May 2007
Posts
17,868
Reaction score
71
Location
Cape Town
Warr - Alan add's the kalk-slurry on a daily basis - because he has a HUGE amount of corals (hard, soft and LPS). I think that one can still doze daily, but FAR less. As Alan suggested - the important water parameter to watch is the pH, as the kalk can possibly adjust the pH too high....
 
Joined
15 May 2007
Posts
2,899
Reaction score
117
Location
Bloemfontein
Once done will the bicarb stay, washing soda
Only if you keep it dry and in an air-tight container (the same goes for commercial products...). I've found that if sealed properly the powder stays "good" for at least 2 weeks - don't know about keeping it for longer periods, as it's used up by then.

Hennie
 
Joined
24 May 2007
Posts
11,995
Reaction score
126
Location
North of Durban and South of Mozambique
OK -
I buy Alpha concentrated Iodine Tincture from a chemist (50ml bottles). I have a previously used 250ml Iodine bottle (was commercially available iodine). I use one complete bottle of iodine (50ml) and add to that 200ml's of RO water.

I then dose every 2nd or 3rd day, +-35 to 50ml's of diluted iodine to my tank (I add it into the last compartment of my sump where my return pump is. Typically, this compartment holds about 40 litres of water
Any more news on this Jacques, or the other Gurus, as I would definately up my Iodene and to buy the Red Sea Version, works out way too expensive for my liking...
 
Joined
22 Jun 2007
Posts
798
Reaction score
16
Location
Noordhoek, Cape Town
I made sulphur pellets for my denitrator by heating up regular flowers of sulphur and dropping the liquid into cold water.

One of Delbeek and Sprung's books quoted sulphur beads as selling for $2 per kilo (from memory). I phoned wine farm supply shops and spoke with a couple of wine makers and nobody had heard of it. Sam's was selling it for R170 a liter, which sounded ridiculous.

I bought 20kg of flowers of sulphur from Protea Chemicals for around R100. I bought a stainless steel pot and an electric hotplate for another R150 or so.

I heated the sulphur in the pot on the hotplate until molten and then dribbled it into cold water. The drops solidified on contact with the water. I made about 8 or 9 liters of beads this way, nominally saving myself a bit over R1000.

I also found Red Sea Magnesium Chloride at Protea Chemicals. This is the same stuff Randy recommends in the improved two part formula.
 
Joined
6 May 2007
Posts
3,711
Reaction score
426
Location
Bracken
I doze into the 3rd chamber of my sump (my chemical filtration chamber)..... This means that the sodium bicarbonate and epsom salts have time to slowly dissolve into the water, long before it reaches my display tank....
Am I misreading? or are you adding the epsom salt and bicarb directly to your water? I.e. not dissolved in ro first?
 

viper357

Admin
Joined
4 May 2007
Posts
29,883
Reaction score
1,404
I also just dump the Epsom Salts into the return chamber of the sump, but the calcium and alkalinity additives I mix in RO and drip into the sump.
 
Last edited:

jacquesb

Retired Moderator
Joined
29 May 2007
Posts
17,868
Reaction score
71
Location
Cape Town
Anyone have any reason of why NOT to dump the powder form chemicals into a specific chamber in the sump? Alternatively: WHY DO YOU HAVE TO ADD THE POWER-FORM CHEMICALS WITH RO WATER FIRST?
 

Top