Why I've Used Borax Before

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by inwall75, Jun 23, 2008.

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  1. inwall75

    inwall75 Giant Squid

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    I would like to explain how Borax can be used and I don't want any making fun of anyone please

    The element Boron in the form of Borate will buffer your pH without having any effect on Carbonate Hardness (dKH). The chemical reasons this works are described here. Chemistry and the Aquarium - Randy Holmes-Farley As a result, all salt manufacturers use it in varying degrees as shown by this salt study.

    Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine - Feature Article: Inland Reef Aquaria Salt Study, Part I
    [​IMG]

    Borax is Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate and it's also the same stuff you are going to find in most buffering products sold for reefers. The difference between Seachem's Reef Buffer vs Seachem's Marine Buffer is the amount of Borate. Blue Life sells both Precision KH Buffer and pH Buffer. Again, the only difference is the amount of Borate in each product. Bobby just dissolves Borax in his B-Ionic as opposed to being in powder form.

    The reason it is used in artificial salts and reef products is that it isn't depleted by calcification by corals, algaes, etc. Since most reefers overstock their tanks causing too much CO2, pH can be made more level with a degree of Borate added. You can normalize your pH and dKH better with a bit of Borax added. The chemical reasons why this works are a little too complex to explain here.

    Is there a danger from using Borax....there can be if you don't understand what's going on. If you have a lot of stonies or LPS and your total alkalinity is good and your pH is good and you don't understand why your stonies are barely growing.....you have too much Borate in your system. If you are using any homemade recipe, throw away any alkalinity test kit you have and buy this one. Reef Status Magnesium It's the only one I know of that can tell you out of your Total Alkalinity how much is Carbonates and how much is Borate
     
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  3. geekdafied

    geekdafied 3reef Sponsor

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    awesome job explaining it!
     
  4. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Indeed. That makes it clear. Very interesting.

    So what is a good borate alkalinity number to shoot for?
     
  5. Bogie

    Bogie Snowflake Eel

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    FWIW I have recently been using the 1 part Borax and 4 parts Arm & Hammer to raise Alk. It has been working great, Thanks Tangster.
     
  6. inwall75

    inwall75 Giant Squid

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    This is hard to explain so I'm just going to cheat ;D

    Chemistry and the Aquarium
     
  7. reef_guru

    reef_guru Humpback Whale

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    20Ca: 2.8 meq/L or 1 dKH
    100: 5: .1 = Ca: Mg: Sr
     
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  9. Jason McKenzie

    Jason McKenzie Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Great explanation Curt!

    I have run into issues with one brand of salt where the borate levels where through the roof while the Carbonates where very low.

    J
     
  10. Tangster

    Tangster 3reef Sponsor

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    I based my mixture on a old source of mixing your own saltwater , It may have been or be considered old school ? But guess what either those few first old timers had to make it or not have it to learn with and how to just keep marine fish alive in a glass box. They had to think and rethink for themselves and I think I was very fortunate to have been raised by and old timer who not only taught me to keep fish alive but how to be a man !

    I'm not the type to make smart ass snide remarks while hiding behind a computer screen or make crank phones calls in the days before Caller I.D either . But what I found when this hobby graduated to Corals and their needs for far tighter water parameters and there had to be changes made.
    I had to adjust my buffer recipe that I was taught as a kid Pop used to mix his at 5 to 1 and some that gave him a totally alkalinity from borates of 1.5 ppm and through some conversations from a few guys while I was in R&R in Australia and a hobbyist I met in Japan while recovering there I learned that NSW alkalinity ran between 2.8 ppm to 4.6 ppm . When I got my first corals in late 70's early 1980 there where no books yet or information to gather on the internet as it had yet been invented :) All I had to go on was that little information of the few I had talked to that where already keeping corals and some notes and common sense . There where few test kits either you had to know someone to test for different elements. So I took the average of the information I had gathered on Borate Alkalinity and split it in the middle and shot for 3.5 ppm or close . And I found with different mixing combos and 5.00 per test :) by a local chemist/Pharmacist at the old Paragon Pharmacy . That’s how I came up with the 4 to 1 mixture that’s the short , long pure and simple truth of it.. I used it every since when needed to buffer water ..

    Some of you my find it hard to believe but there was a time when fish and corals where being kept very successfully and you could not walk in to a LFS or go on line and buy a product to fix your problems .. There where few books that made mention of marine aquariums and nothing about coral where ever mentioned .No experts or Chemical Co to mix them elements for you. We sold 20,000 units of this product last yr via mail order internet and walk in sales .. I choose to not mix in strontium or magnesium and or Sodium Carbonates aka Washing Soda arm and hammer sells that also.. Or some will add cheap soda ash :) like used in swimming pools to help buffer them.

    Now I really could care less what people say or think about me or what I say or do , But I watched this thread I simply decided to stay out of it for several reason , Until I saw a few comments that got my interest . These where the ones about I'll not add that to my tank as its not food grade and Baking soda contained some aluminum element ? Well all commercial buffers use the same Bi carbonates as you can buy as their base ingredient with the same aluminum its also used in baking cookies cakes and toothpaste and is drank for heart burn works better the Rolaids :)

    Then I saw one who mentioned or said he had a alga bloom from its use ? It was not the use of this that caused it . Also I think it was mentioned the tank was 10 yrs old ? OTS ( Old Tank Syndrome) is probably the leading cause and take that one Hair alga out break as a early warning sign Buddy and this is the main reason I even posted this if the tank is 10 yrs old then it has exhausted all the natural carbonates from the system and the rocks and sand have absorbed more excess PO4 and acids then it can off set . It happens about 2 yrs with DSB on average . You may need to start replacing bottom media and recycling rocks 10 to 12 yrs is average for any home marine system.. You system is in a downward trend now if I read you post correctly you may want to research OTS and soon.. Again that’s free advice and take it for what its worth ..

    Se'yall in the funny papers ;)
     
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  11. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Interesting. Thanks guys.

    So do many salt mixes out there that have a good borate number out of the box?
     
  12. inwall75

    inwall75 Giant Squid

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    Aquamedic and Biosea Marine Mix are too low according to the link in the first post

    This wasn't on the salt test I linked above but Seachem's old formulation was way too high causing misleading alkalinity numbers. I've been told (but I've not tested this for myself) that they have since fixed this issue.

    Their test found this as well