Bad batch of Instant Ocean? Alkalinity through the ROOF!!!


Clowning Around
I did a 40% water change today, with Instant Ocean for the first time, and immediately my tank started crashing! I tested pH (8.2), ammonia (0), nitrite (0), nitrate, phosphate, copper, salinity (1.025), and all looks fine, except for alkalinity... a kH of more than 30!

Both my cleaner shrimp died, my Hawaiian feather duster is laying out of its tube twitching, my Bengaai cardinal is belly up, my royal gramma is missing, and my yellow tang doesn't look impressed. The water is also very cloudy white. :sad1:

Normally I use Red Sea but decided to switch to IO. The new water was RO and mixed for 24 hours with a powerhead, but I added a bit of salt 30 minutes before to adjust salinity. The water was introduced slowly over two hours.

I thought it could have been the RO but it tests fine. I did another batch this time with tap water and mixed it vigorously for 30 minutes. It tested the alkalinity at over 37!

I brought it back to the LFS and they did a test batch and their test kit showed kH off the scale too. They were shocked, but told me it was because the water had to mix for 24 hours, there has never been a problem with IO ever, and they just gave me a new bucket.

The new batch I'm doing right now with tap water has an alkalinity of only 5, so obviously there had to of been something wrong with the first bucket of IO. This batch also isn't so cloudy.

Does anyone know what could of happened?

:sad1: :sad1: :sad1: :sad1:
Did the LFS keep the bad bucket?? If not, I'd get in touch with IO immediately and send them a sample of the salt and demand testing of it.

And no, it doesn't have to mix for 24 hours...Read the package, "dissolves instantly" I think is what it says (I don't use IO anymore so I forget what it says now) I'd recommend mixing/aerating it for a few hours but how long did you mix it for?

This is a new one for me to hear..I've never heard of IO issues like this but I suppose anyone can have bad batches.

Wow, I've never heard of anything like this before. IO makes their salt in HUGE batches. If there is a problem, there will be quite a few buckets/bags with same problem. I'd give them a call and see if they've had anyone else with the same problem. 1-800-822-1100

Let us know what they say.

I'm so upset right now...

I'm so upset right now...

So there HAS been problems with alkalinity and IO in the past.

JL Aquatics told me there's never been a problem in 30 years that they can remember with IO.

Somebody has to reimburse me for my dead pets. Iââ"šÂ¬Ã¢"žÂ¢m going to follow up with Instant Ocean on this one, for sure. I guess the LFS can only do so much.

So do you all think I should do a 99% water change using tap water and the new salt? So much for ROââ"šÂ¬Ã‚¦ I canââ"šÂ¬Ã¢"žÂ¢t get enough in time.

Of all things, I can't believe this is what eventually brings my tank down.

:sad1: :sad1:
personaly i'd recommend that you drain out 25% of the water and dose it with a HEAVY amount of kalkwasser, it will percipitate out most of the DKh, you can then use white viniger to get the ph back down (use a very little at the time). let it settle and syphon off the clear water from the top and leave the percipitation on the bottom of the bucket.

with your tank being (by your sign) FOWLR the low calcium shouldnt be a problem short term. dosing kalk will bring it back up in the next few weeks

i wouldnt recommend this on a regular basis, but its a better solution then using new tap water and IO, IME newly made artificial SW if not airated/circulated for 12 hrs has a noticable amount of ammonia in it.

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Wouldn't that be like double-posting? In hindsight I guess I should have posted in the chemistry forum.

Anyway, I don't have kalk right now. The stores are closed. Should have picked some up. I just have Kent Essential Elements with calcium in it. Would that do any good?

Maybe I should assume alkalinity is not the only problem with the salt and just change it out of there. Our tap water TDS is only 14, so it shouldn't be too bad. Ummm... right?

I just sent Randy a PM asking him to check out your thread here. Hopefully he can offer you some sound advice.

Anyway, I don't have kalk right now.

Good, because it would not be the thing to add, IMO. :D

So there HAS been problems with alkalinity and IO in the past.

Well, I'm probably more familiar with alkalinity complaints than most folks, and I've never, ever seen a single person even claim that they had IO give an alkalinity over 20 dKH. OK, I'll take the Reagan approach that I at least do not remember any such thing. (because some wise guy will dig up an archived post from 6 years ago with the claim :lol: ).

FWIW, IO seems, IME, to have recently boosted their alkalinity from about 2.5 meq/L (7 dKH) to about 4 meq/l (11 dKH). Most folks seem to think that is good (I personally don't care).

Your experience is really very out of the ordinary. I've used only IO for years.

There are several possibilities:

1. The batch was bad. Crap happens to every manufacturer.

2. The sample that you used had settled within the bag/bucket, and you took a portion with higher alk, leaving behind a portion with lower alk.

3. You are mismeasuring the alkalinity somehow. The simple answer to many, many chemistry "problems" is mismeasurement in the first place. What kit are you using?

4. You made the salinity way too high.

If the alkalinity is really that high, then I would watch the calcium as it will be hard to maintain until the alkalinity drops through the precipitation of calcium carbonate. If the alkalinity is really 30 dKH (10.7 meq/L) and that drops through precipitation to 11 dKH (4 meq/L), the the calcium will drop by 134 ppm. What is the calcium now? Is the water cloudy?

Here are some suggested solutions (after possibly confirming again that the problem is real):

1. Do nothing but monitor calcium and supplement calcium as necessary while the alkalinity declines. This may take some time, but high alkalinty is not much of a problem in most peoples experience as long as calcium and pH are OK, and the amount is not so high that massive precipitation results.

2. Do a water change with a new batch or a different mix. The benefit here is that IF something is really that far off with alkalinity, maybe other, unmeasured things are also off.

This article describes how to correct calcium and alkalinity problems like this one:

Solving Calcium and Alkalinity Problems
Thanks Randy

Thanks Randy

Should everyone then dump their bucket of salt into something and mix it all up before using it?

I don't know the brands of the test kits but two different types were used. The salinity is 1.0255 with a calibrated refractometer. The LFS used a hydrometer for their test.

I don't know the calcium level. Would adding Kent Essential Elements be OK for now if that's all I have?

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Well my feather duster is in a separate container with the better water, but it doesn't move except for a few twitches here and there. The bengaai cardinal is with it and has been revived believe it or not. Shrimp, dead for sure. Tang is still in the main tank and looking a lot better. Royal gramma still missing. Didn't know tangs were that hardy.
I would not add Kent's essential elements. It contains all kinds of chemicals that there is no reason to believe are low in your aquarium. These include aluminum, boron, bromine, chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, lithium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, potassium, selenium, sulfur, strontium, tin, vanadium, and zinc.

I'm actually surprised that an alkalinity of 30 dKH would kill so much.

I woulds suggest getting a calcuium test and a pH test before taking any action short of more water changes with a different batch.

Should everyone then dump their bucket of salt into something and mix it all up before using it?

Most folks mix up a fair amount, but not the whole bucket. Normally, settling is not that big of a problem.
there has been alot of threads pertaining to problems when switching salts[mine included! went from IO to CS]. Also, I do find 40% water change to large for my liking, I do only 25% every couple of months on my 90g. I also like to let new saltwater mix for a few days to age. I know the directions read "mixes intantly" but I find that if I just mix and dump that my corals react immediatly! Try to let your next batch mix for a while and do a smaller change. I'd be super suprized if it was the salt causing a high alk,also, I know you tested it at the LFS but maybe get another type of test kit and buy one of those floating cheap hydrometers and compare it to your calibrated refractometer just to see the diff. A drastic switch in salinity will effect things in your tank like you described. IMO.
Ok I got to get in on this one. Same thing has happend to me. I did a 20 gal water change on my 90 gallon. All inverts died in minutes. Cleaner shrimp, emerald crabs, hermit crabs, snails, flatworms which of course released toxins, no sign of any more amphapods or copepods anywhere.
Could not test alkalinity on a salifert test kit. Neither could LFS. Talked to some people out in Maryland ( sorry can not give names) IO was said to be running a 17 dKH and was found to have huge amounts of Montmorillinite, a silicate clay that expands many times its normal size when wet, IO is said to use it as a binder/carrier.
Started my water change on the 2nd of Sept, preformed water change on the 5th mixing to SG of 1.025. Water change was cloudy and foamy the first day, wondered about that. You already heard the results.

Called someone by the name of Gershwin at Aquarium Systems and was told to send a water sample in. Well they lost the first one. Sent a second sample in and had them sign for it this time. They signed for it on the 24th but still no word from them. Send a 2 pound sample somewhere else but they declined to give me any data, guess they didn't want to get sued.

I didn't read all of your replys yet and am going to back and do that now. The man you want to send your sample to is Bob Studt at Aquarium Systems, make him sign for it.

I had the same exact thing happen! I am not sure if it was the alkalinity because I didn't think to check that. I usually use coralife or kent salt. I got some IO because the store was out of the others. I did about a 10% water change and within minutes the snails were falling off the glass. It killed almost all of the crustations, including several acro crabs and a pistol shrimp in the corals. I checked about everything exept alk because I didn't realize it could cause those problems. My tank is just now getting back to normal after several months.