Hi! I was wondering if people would share their tricks on keeping the water parameters stable without using too many chemicals. To give a little background, I've had my 40g tank for just over a year now. Recently went through a nitrate crisis - after a year there was a build-up of debris in the bio-balls area, which, I assume, caused a "gradual" spike in the nitrate levels. After a thorough research and reading many articles on this site, many water changes and some very very sad losses, I gradually removed the bio-balls and replaced that compartment with a refuge (macro-algae and light). Lesson learned - the algae is a lot easier to rinse off if needed and consumes nitrites and nitrates. Now are there ways in keeping the PH/Calcium in order without using buffers? And, this might be asking too much, but how could I keep the salinity steady without the auto-top-off"er"? For now I'm adding some fresh water every other day, but that's a bad solution... Just in case, my parameters PH 8 (always) Nitrates 20 Nitrites 0 Calcium 500 and often more Magnesium 1320 (last checked, I think it used to be lower) and I change about 3-4 g of water weekly Any input and ideas (no matter how general) are very welcome!!! Thanks.