BALLING SYSTEM

Continued improvements in techniques, and advancements in aquarium technology, have made the successful maintenance and propagation of more and more corals in the reef aquarium a reality, and have necessitated the development of some type of effective dosing system to deliver elements, such as calcium magnesium and carbonates, which are vital to the well-being of many of these reef-building organisms.The Balling method is a technically mature procedure, tested and proven to resupply your sea water aquarium with the used-up calcium and Hydrogen carbonate ions at a low cost!

This elegant and easy-to-use procedure was published by Hans-Werner Balling in 1994 in the technical journal on aquaristics DATZ (Die Aquarien und Terrarien Zeitung): Balling, H.-W. (1994),

The Balling Method is the most commonly used supplementation method for reef aquariums in Europe and it is beginning to make it first steps in the States, as well as Japan. It is a worthwhile effort. It does not take a genius or any special skills. One only needs an accurate scale, liquid measuring container and water. It is best to use distilled, or at the very least RO, water.

To use the Balling method, you require the following components:
1. Test kit for calcium and magnesium, as well as a KH test kit
2. A refractometer or a spindle to determine density and/or salinity
3. A scale with 1-2 gram precision
4. Food-safe canister for the solutions. 5-10 liter cans have proven to be useful.
5. A calculator that can determine the necessary quantity of the salts.

Adding Kalkwasser (Calcium Hydroxide -- Ca(OH)2) is an old and widespread method pioneered by Peter Wilkens. Opinions vary whether using Kalkwasser as the main source of calcium is prudent. A somewhat newer method of adding calcium is with Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) on its own and that's part of the Balling system.

The largest benefit of the Balling Method over other supplementation methods is control. Even the highest calcium and carbonate demands can be met, without the PH issues associated with Kalkwasser and Calcium Reactors. And because each additive is added independently it allows the hobbyist to fine tune their water chemistry.

The solutions should be added at separate times , so that they do not react with each other and cause precipitation. It is recommended to add carbonates in the mornings following by magnesium and calcium at night . The application should take place in small doses. In the Balling method all 3 liquids should be given daily and always in such quantities that the water values in the sea water aquarium are kept at a constant level.

The core of the Balling Method consists of:
• Calcium Chloride Di-Hydrate
• Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate
• Magnesium Chloride-Hexahydrate & Magnesium Sulfate-Heptahydrate

The Balling Light method does incorporate Trace Elements.
These elements are added directly to the Ca and Alk solutions as shown below.
• Calcium Chloride Di-Hydrate
• Strontium – Calcium
• Iron -Zinc
• Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate
• Iodine – Boron

When used correctly, all levels of major elements remain constant, with calcium levels at 420 mg/l, magnesium at about 1350 mg/l and carbonate alkalinity at 7-9 dKH. According to numerous hobbyists who have been using the Balling Method , although this methodology has accounted for a doubling the size of small-polyp stony (SPS) corals in their aquariums within about 100 days, coloration has been compromised unless the following trace elements are also add :Iodine, iron, strontium and ZN.

Besides calcium and hydrogen carbonate ions, chloride and sodium ions, that is common salt, are applied in the Balling method. The latter is not consumed but slowly accumulates in the sea water aquarium. This leads to a migration of the ions and an increased salt content respectively . To correct this "ion displacement" you have to add NaCl free sea salt. Adding NaCl and adding NaCl free Salt means adding salt! By adding all these salts we also raise the specific gravity of the water . So there is a need to remove reef water and add RO/DI water to correct that.

(Or use less concentrated seawater with your next water change).

Another version of adding Mg to the reef instead of NaCl free salt is adding MgCl2 and MgSO4 in a certain mix. This is done because Sulfate(SO4) is the major part of salt content after chloride (Cl).