With the frag system, I decided to use dosing pumps and a triple dosing reservoir. I sell the products I use myself, after all. Plus, so many hobbyists don't use a calcium reactor these days, so having a common task makes answering questions easier. There are many brands of dosers on the market. I chose to use the independent Icecap Dosing pumps. You can daisy chain them, adding three slave pumps to the master pump. I only needed two and one for this tank. All three pumps are wired to a single power cord, and are placed on a small shelf above their dosing reservoir.
I mix up 1-gallon of each solution as necessary. Alkalinity is baked Baking Soda, Calcium is a Calcium chloride from Fritz, and Magnesium is mixed from Magnesium Pronto. I have at the time of this writing one of each of these by ME Coral to try out and do a review, so that's going to happen in the next couple of weeks.
It took some time to find the sweet spot. Dosing is actually harder than running a calcium reactor, which I tend to consider hands-free and essentially automated. With dosing, you have to test your water frequently and adjust the dosing rates until you find the right equilibrium. And then as the livestock volume changes in bioload, that affects consumption rates and pumps need to be adjusted accordingly.
For now, these are the dosing rates.
- Alkalinity 15ml every 8 hours (45ml per day)
- Calcium 12ml every 8 hours (36ml per day)
- Magnesium 10ml every 8 hours (30ml per day)
Generally speaking, it's usually best to dose Alkalinity in the early morning hours when pH levels are depressed, and calcium dosing can be done in the evening. Magnesium isn't necessary on a regular basis typically, but I had a lot of montipora in my frag system and needed to keep Mg levels steady.
It's important to check that each dosing pump is working. I simply press the temp-feed button on each pump when I think of it, and see if solution pumps out of the 1/8" tubing. If liquid comes out instantly, all is well. If it's not, I have to find the break in the line or add more solution perhaps.
Making the additive mix into the saltwater properly:
One thing I observed and didn't like was that the area beneath where the dosage occurs, I'd see caclium or alkalinity shale building up in the sump. To prevent that from occuring, I installed a tiny powerhead right beneath those three tubes, creating an tumbling effect exactly where each dose trickles in. This mixes it into the saltwater perfectly and the shale never happened again. The tiny pump was a simple solution and I can tell at a glance if it is running or not since it creates a small mound or hill of water right above it. If the pump is off or clogged up with detritus, that spot is still.
I will update this page with more information when necessary.