Guide to the Balling Method
The Balling Method is a method to sustain optimal parameters of Calcium, Alkalinity and trace elements in an aquarium with calcium building corals and other invertebrates.
When using this method, a calcium reactor is not necessary anymore, because the addition of the balling solution provide all the depletion of elements. Not using a Calcium reactor creates some benefits.
The pH of the whole tank can be maintained at a higher level, because no acidic Calcium reactor effluent is added to the tank anymore. The reactor effluent can also contain traces of Phosphates, dissolving out of the reactor media. So another benefit is that no phosphates are added to the tank anymore, besides of feeding of course.
The purpose of the balling Method is to sustain the parameters shown below:
Calcium: 380 – 420 mg/Liter
Magnesium: 1200 – 1350 mg/Liter
Alkalinity: 6,5 – 8 dkH
Salinity: 33 – 35 Promille
The Balling Method uses three canisters of different solutions:
271 g CalciumChloride-Dihydrate is added to 1 Gallon of pure RO/DI water.
Additionally these trace elements can be added to canister 1:
Strontium / Barium Komplex (19 ml using Fauna Marin)
Heavy Metal complex (19 ml using Fauna Marin)
318 g NatriumHydrogenCarbonate (Baking Soda) is added to 1 Gallon of pure RO/DI water.
Additionally these trace elements can be added to canister 2:
Iodine Fluoride Complex (19 ml using Fauna Marin)
92 g NaCl-free salt is added to 1 Gallon of pure RO/DI water.
Additionally MagnesiumCloride can be added to this canister to maintain the Magnesium level. The amount differs per tank and have to be determined by measuring the magnesium uptake.
NaCl-free salt is needed to sustain a proper ionic balance. NaCl is constantly added when using balling, and isn’t used by the calcium building invertebrates. (Ca and CO3 is used, Na and Cl isn’t) The addition of this third solution can cause the salinity to raise over time. My experience is that weekly measurements are enough to keep things in check. Some salt is exported by the skimmer, so adjusting the salinity is not often necessary.
Always use the same amounts of every solution! They are ionically balanced.
Larger canisters can be used. The amount of salts and trace elements have to be multiplied according to the increase in volume. Preheating the water, just as most reefers do when dissolving salt for a waterchange, increases the solubility of the salts.
To determine the amount of Calcium and Carbonate uptake some measuring is necessary. Concentrating on the Alkalinity uptake is important, because it can be measured more accurately then Calcium.
Before dosage, measure the Alkalinity (KH) level of the tank. Then dose the solutions in the same amounts, 30 ml per 25 Gallon of tank water is a good starting point. Make sure there is one hour minimum between the dosages of the different solutions.
After one day, on the same moment of the day, measure the alkalinity again. Did it rise; reduce the dosage amount of the three solutions. Did it drop; increase the dosage amount of the solutions. This may sound like a lot of work, but within a week you find a sweet spot.
You can dose the solution daily by hand, or use a dosing computer. Dosing computers that I recommend are the Grotech TEC III, Vertex doser, GHL doser and the Profilux doser, (controlled by the Profilux computer). These dosing computers also provide the option to spread the dosing of the solutions over the day, and don’t dose the different solution right after each other. This makes precipitation of CalciumCarbonate less likely.