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The Balling method is intended to maintain optimal levels of calcium, magnesium and alkalinity, as well as trace elements (trace elements) and micro nutrients in tanks with marine life. This is an alternative method, with the advantages relating to calcium reactor.

For a better understanding and clarity, this article will talk only about the steps to be taken relative to calcium (Ca). We should take similar actions with respect to carbonates (KH) and Magnesium (Mg).

With respect to Mg, it should be noted that both the increase of its concentration and its consumption are not readily observable in a reef tank, so the tests will be done more sparingly.
  • Three containers qualified as food quality
  • 3 dosing pumps or 1 three-way pump
  • Ca, Mg and KH tests


Important: Balling salts with the highest possible purity should be used. The systematic iintake of Balling salts containing contaminants will lead inevitably to serious problems in reef aquariums

4 -  SOLUTIONS storage
To store the solutions of calcium, sodium bicarbonate and magnesium is necessaryto use containers with suitable dimensions. The 5 liters containers may be used for systems up to 1000 liters. For systems bigger than 1000 liters must be used larger containers and thus achieve greater autonomy. For the preparation of solutions with larger containers we have to extrapolate the quantities of each product.

The containers should be prepared separately. You must label all containers and avoid to contaminate each other when making the preparations and thus prevent precipitation and consequent destruction of the products.

The containers must be prepared separately and be labeled to avoid mistakes with the consequent loss of the products.

5 - PREPARATION OF SOLUTIONS (assuming 5 liters containers)
  • Container 1 (Calcium) - Solution 1 - Fill the container with 4 liters of osmosis water. Add 2kg of calcium chloride. Stir the solution until it dissolves completely. An increase in temperature is perfectly normal. Add 50 ml of ULTRA BALLING TRACE 1 and 50 ml of ULTRA BALLING TRACE 2 to the solution. Finish filling the container with osmosis water and stir. The solution is now ready for use.
Caution: Always add calcium chloride to water and never water to calcium chloride.

  • Container 2 (Sodium Bicarbonate) - Solution 2 - Fill the container with 4 liters of osmosis water. Add 500g of sodium bicarbonate and stir until the solution is completely dissolved. To dissolve Sodium bicarbonate more easily you can warm the water with a thermostat. Add Add 30 ml of BALLING ULTRA TRACE 3 to this solution. Finish filling the container with osmosis water and stir. The solution is now ready to be used.

  • Container 3 (Magnesium) - Solution 3 -  Fill the container with 4 liters of osmosis water. Add 2.5 kg of magnesium chloride. Add 250g of magnesiumsulfate(10% of magnesium chloride) . Finish filling the container with osmosis water and stir. The solution is now ready to be used.

The concentrations of calcium, carbonates and magnesium must be kept within the following limits:
  • Calcium - 400 a 420 mg/L
  • Carbonates - 7 a 8.5 dkH
  • Magnesium - 1300 a 1350 mg/L

Before dosing the diferent solutions, test the concenrations of Ca, Mg and KH in the aquarium water, and:
  • If any of the concentrations of Ca, Mg or kH is above the reference values​​, do not add the corresponding solution until the element is settled within the reference limits;
  • If any of the concentrations of Ca, Mg or kH is below the reference values​​, try to increase the concentration of this element until it settled within the reference values​​.
  • If Mg level is below 1100mg / L, not worth trying to raise Ca levels for the ideal values, because doing so you we'll waste time and money. First rise the Mg concentration to situate it within the reference range, and then increase the concentration of Ca.  It is not possible to raise the calcium levels in a tank if the Mg values ​​are too low.
8 - HOW TO RAISE the calcium LEVELS (over 7 days)
  1. Measure the concentration of calcium in your tank, using existing reliable tests on the market;
  2. Add sump in the amount of 0.1 ml of solution per 1 liter of water from the system. If your system has 500 liters p. . example, add 50 ml of solution 1;
  3. After two hours measure the concentration of calcium again;
  4. So we learned how calcium concentration rised with a single dosage of solution 1;
  5. Knowing the effect of solution 1 in your system, only need to determine the amount of solution 1 to add to raise the calcium concentration to the desired value;
  6. Set its metering pump so as to dispense the amount over 7 days. We suggest not increase Ca levels in more than 20mg / L per day.
Using a pratical example:

Let's assume a system with 400 liters, in which we have a concentration of Ca = 360mg / L and we intend to raise it to Ca = 400mg / L, over 7 days.

Applying the methodology referred :
  1. Suppose that the concentrations of calcium in the tank was tested and was obtained Ca = 360mg / L;
  2. We'll have to add in the sump the amount of 0.1 ml of solution per 1 liter of water from the system. As the system of our example has 400 liters, add 40 ml of solution 1;
  3. Two hours later again measured to obtain the concentration of calcium, e.g., Ca values ​​= 380mg / L;
  4. We found that levels of Ca system rose 20mg / L when adding 40ml of solution 1;
  5. Easily is concluded that if we want to rise the calcium level in 40mg / L, we have to add 80ml of solution 1;
  6. Program dosing pump to dispense 11 ml of Solution 1 per day, which corresponds to add about 80 ml of solution 1 over a week. 

  • Measure the Ca level;
  • Do not add any product to the system which may influence the Ca concentration;
  • Measure again the concentration of Ca in the tank, 24 hours later;
  • The difference in concentrations corresponds to daily calcium consumption in the system.

  1. Proceed as referred in the previous section (Section 9);
  2. According with the calcium consumption, set the dosing pump to dispense the solution 1 as required, daily.


It is simple to evaluate and replace the calcium, carbonates and magnesium needs in our system in an independent way. Addition of trace elements and micro nutrients is also made ​​simple.

Over the first two weeks of using the method, we have to monitor the levels of Ca, Mg and kH daily until we conveniently regulate dosages and dosing pumps. After controlled additions of solutions 1, 2 and 3, and maintain stable the levels of Ca, Mg and kH in our tanks, we can go to get tested weekly and after 15 to 15 days.

Regular water changes are important for those using the Balling Light method. Water changes around 10% per week must be done in order to correct salinity, to replace some trace elements and micro nutrients consumed, and, not less important, to dilute the polution in the system.

2012, August

Jorge Machado de Sousa

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