who's down with ORP?

jhale

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oxidation reduction potential

This is a misunderstood and difficult subject to understand as it relates to our aquariums.
While doing research for the effects of ozone I found this article that Randy Holmes-Farley wrote, ORP and the Reef Aquarium.
I suggest that you read it as it raises some questions about aquarium water quality and the things we do to control it.

One thing said is that keeping track of ORP is not always necessary, unless you are using O3. It's more about ORP and the use of O3 I would like to focus on, but any insights you have on ORP would be valuable to hear.

A brief summery of ORP: it represents the balance between chemical oxidizers who want to gather electrons, and chemical reducers who want to get rid of their electrons. This balance is always changing, and is effected by so many different variables it is impossible, nor necessary to maintain it at a specific level. The oxidizers are mostly O2, and the reducers are made up of mostly organics, ie: food, waste, additives we put in the tank, and the organisms themselves, all are under attack from oxidizers.
From our point of view keeping the redox levels between 200-500mV is acceptable, with 300-450mV being preferable.

The part of the article that interested me the most was the discussion of ORP and water quality. It is suggested that a higher ORP does not mean better water quality. And that by adding oxidizers, such as O3, you may be only masking a problem, not fixing it. The example given is that organics in the water column will turn the water yellow. By introducing O3 these organics are not removed merely the color changes from yellow to clear.
Now this may be good for light penetration into the tank, but what does stripping the color from the organics have on the tank. It could not be said if it was a good thing or bad thing. So even if you use O3 the advice of our own Jackson6745 seems proper, get a bigger skimmer!

Randy states, "If an oxidizer is added and ORP goes up in 30 seconds, is the water purer? Not likely. More likely, that addition shifted many of the redox species to their more oxidizing forms. Is that beneficial? Maybe. Is it detrimental? Maybe. For example, the bioavailability of certain metals may depend on the form that those metals take. Is increasing bioavailability of them desirable? It all depends on the details. Details that are simply not known for aquaria.

Perhaps continual use of ozone does help clear some organics from the water, and there is a long term benefit that may or may not be related to actual ORP readings that one gets from an aquarium. Is there data showing that to be the case, and then coupling that with some objective measure of benefit to the aquarium? Does that outweigh the potential concerns about the toxicity of reactive oxidants in aquaria? Again, I do not know the answer. Only careful studies with clear endpoints can give such an answer."


Even if you don't plan on using ozone to maintain your tank reading about ORP is valuable. There is even a way to measure the ORP of your sandbed if you have one, this can alert you to an impending problem if done on a regular schedule.
For myself I'm going to do more research on the subject. I still plan on using ozone, but this article has helped my knowledge of what is happening in my reef tanks water. :)
 

herman

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solbby said:
Why do you want to use ozone?
I like crystal clear water, for my viewing pleasure as well as being able to use a 250w bulb as opposed to 400w bulb I would have to use because the light on the 250 does not prnrtrate the water.
 

ShaunW

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Then why not use water changes, carbon and efficient skimming as a means to get crystal clear water. Why complicate the whole system even more by adding yet another factor into the equation?
 

jhale

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I want to use ozone to keep the water clear to allow the maximum par value of my light to be used.
I feel by doing so I can potentially use less light and be more efficient with what I have. It is all part of my trying to cut back how much power our aquariums use.
I have not found any negative aspects to using O3, yet.
But Randys article did shed some light, lol, on the subject. I thought O3 removed organics from the water, I did not understand it can also just remove the color.
I was thinking the O3 would alleviate the need for a larger skimmer, that was incorrect. I also want really clear water so I can enjoy looking at the tank with no colored tinge to it. I paid for a starphire tank, I want my moneys worth ;)
 

herman

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The one thing that really got me on this article was that I was always under the impression that a certain ORP value would say something about the health of the tank. With my last tank I maintained 400mv. While I understand the fact that ozone merely clears up the color of the disolved organics, I did notice a significant increase in my skimmer in terms of nog production. I am not saying that it is all because of the ozone, just merely stating my observation. Perhaps someone can clarify the reactions that take place that may lead to this.
 

herman

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solbby said:
Then why not use water changes, carbon and efficient skimming as a means to get crystal clear water. Why complicate the whole system even more by adding yet another factor into the equation?

Here is the thing solbby, its not complicated. Carbon and waterchanges is something I would conduct anyway.
 

jhale

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solbby said:
Then why not use water changes, carbon and efficient skimming as a means to get crystal clear water. Why complicate the whole system even more by adding yet another factor into the equation?

how does adding 03 complicate things?
would it not be just another tool to keep the tank water clear.
what negative things does it add?
 

jhale

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herman is typing faster than me.
but I understand what you are saying I think.
why add a system to the tank that has potential to do harm?
if set up properly I think 03 will benefit the tank. of course the proper
safety features must be in place as too much 03 would be extremely detrimental for the tanks inhabitants.
 

herman

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jhale said:
how does adding 03 complicate things?
would it not be just another tool to keep the tank water clear.
what negative things does it add?
After years of using ozon e I have not hyad any complications whatsoever. If anyone says that it can lead to O3 leaching into the tank, placing the carbon on the exit ports will solve that problem 100%. I always use ozone safe materials. Not because they are ozone safe, just simply that they are better.

I have been using ozone sometimes in very high dosages and NEVER did I have any form of bleaching to any inhabitants of my tank. Anyone who has, should probably review the instructions on usage of ozone.

That being said, I was hoping to learn more about ORP itself though. I was hoping that someone like solbby could perhaps translate and condense the entire thing into lehmans terms.
 

herman

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solbby said:
Why complicate the whole system even more by adding yet another factor into the equation?

Besides thats like saying why add a calcium reactor to your system cause a malfunction can cause a major co2 leach and mess up my tank.

I use technology to simplyfy my life. I would like to spend more time enjoying my tank rather than treating and dosing it.

Plus I do like the sterilization (killing pathogens in the water) properties. And yes, I know that if it kills harmful it will also kill some of the good stuff
 

jhale

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hermangareis said:
That being said, I was hoping to learn more about ORP itself though. I was hoping that someone like solbby could perhaps translate and condense the entire thing into lehmans terms.

I agree, I wanted to have a discussion on ORP, but I also wanted to figure out what the effect O3 has in relation to ORP as well.

ORP as described by Randy seems to be an extremely important thing to monitor, while at the same time not necessary.
As long as you maintain the proper husbandry the ORP levels will remain within a safe zone for the tank. There is little we can do to mess that up.
Now when we add 03, we are adding the possibility of severely messing up the balance. 03 are very effective oxidizers. If not kept in check they will not only attack the smaller organic particle sin the tank, but also all the ones we really care about, such as the fish.

the other thing to consider is the use of CA reactors and their ability to change PH. PH also effects the ORP levels, as the PH changes the ORP will
go in the opposite direction. So if your CR is driving the PH up all the time your ORP level is going down all the time, that's also something to think about.
 

Deanos

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I understand how clearer water would make the existing lighting more effective. But, can a supporter of ozone use, translate that increased effectiveness into numerical terms? Such as: "If you use ozone, your water will be XX% clearer meaning you can use XX% less lighting wattage".

Also, Herman mentioned how he could now use a 250w bulb instead of 400w. Is that implying that the industry standard recommended depth a particular wattage halide bulb can reach is based on a tank NOT using ozone?
 

jhale

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Deanos said:
I understand how clearer water would make the existing lighting more effective. But, can a supporter of ozone use, translate that increased effectiveness into numerical terms? Such as: "If you use ozone, your water will be XX% clearer meaning you can use XX% less lighting wattage".

Also, Herman mentioned how he could now use a 250w bulb instead of 400w. Is that implying that the industry standard recommended depth a particular wattage halide bulb can reach is based on a tank NOT using ozone?

in determining par values I'm sure the companies take them under optimum conditions, but who knows if they are using ozone. I guess if you fill a tank with fresh mixed water and do not put any waste into it then take the par values, that would be even better than using ozone in an established tank.

the other thing to realize about getting the most out of your lighting is too keep the bulbs and reflectors clean, all the time. any salt residue on the bulbs will decrease the par greatly.
 

jhale

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I'm not sure you can make a clear cut case for switching to a 250w from a 400w, your water would have to be awfully tinted to allow that change.
that much tinting would be from never changing the water or running carbon.
if that's the case then you need to rethink your husbandry ;)

this is just surmising, we would have to take the par values to really make any true statements.
 

NYPDFrogman

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great article great thread!

I've used Ozone before in both a skimmmer and a reactor. as I have stated before I prefer the reactor over the skimmer.
I let the skimmer do it's job and I let the reactor do it's job.

right now I have a ORP controller on my 180 this morning it read 378mv with out the lights
my ph was 7.98 (pinpoint)
my water is crystal clear
I run a ASM G4 with sedra9000
I have a large reverse flow carbon reactor
a 12 gal fuge with a 5"DSB
I have a large fish population, my regal angel,asfur angel, stripped bristol tooth, naso tang and mystery wrasse, clown tang and purple tang are all in the 4-5" range and are poop machines! the rest 2 clowns, flame and sixline are 3"+
as I'm typing PH is 8.02 and ORP is 358MV
my skimmate is dark and thick (I skim dry) and produces it steadily.
my interpitation of ORP was that the higher the ORP the more ability the water has to deal or combat dissolved organics.


in the past I've noticed a considerable difference in the tanks I had that had Ozone as opposed that those didnt.
my micro algae was minimal, coral color was much better overall the tank looked better with Ozone.


I dont think adding Ozone is complicating anything. as we strive to keep more and more difficult specims it stands to reason that filtration and water quality has to be as best as it can be.
water quality is everything!
 

herman

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Deanos said:
I understand how clearer water would make the existing lighting more effective. But, can a supporter of ozone use, translate that increased effectiveness into numerical terms? Such as: "If you use ozone, your water will be XX% clearer meaning you can use XX% less lighting wattage".

Also, Herman mentioned how he could now use a 250w bulb instead of 400w. Is that implying that the industry standard recommended depth a particular wattage halide bulb can reach is based on a tank NOT using ozone?

Take for example oceanrealm who never has used a skimmer. Jackson advised him to lower the photoperiod to avoid bleaching because the water will be clearer. If he were to put on a huge skimmer and use ozone right now, a lot of his inhabitants will bleach and shock because they were not acclimated to the new light intensities.

As far as industry values go, its just a guidance. As far as I see it different values for different tanks because they are so damn different.
 

herman

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jhale said:
Now when we add 03, we are adding the possibility of severely messing up the balance. 03 are very effective oxidizers. If not kept in check they will not only attack the smaller organic particle sin the tank, but also all the ones we really care about, such as the fish.

That is why we use either skimmers with the exit passing over carbon or use a dedicated reactor, which is definitely a better choice.

If any O3 leaches into the tank the first thing it will react with is the gills of the fish. O3 has no business being in the tank.

It must be in a controlled device and area. Minimal carbon will make sure that the ozone oxidizes b4 it gets into the tank.
 

jhale

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NYPDFrogman said:
I dont think adding Ozone is complicating anything. as we strive to keep more and more difficult specims it stands to reason that filtration and water quality has to be as best as it can be.
water quality is everything!

okay so in adding ozone to a tank you are able to fine tune the orp balance and make sure the oxidizers in the tank do not become overwhelmed by the reducers.
comparing the ocean to our tank is silly, but we have to try and stay within the parameters of natural seawater. so if a reef has at any given time 350mV to 500mV then we should do whatever we can to maintain those levels. and since we are comparing a closed system constantly being filled with more waste, to the ocean which can dilute the waste through the sheer volume of water, adding a little ozone to help out does make sense to me.

as waste/reducers are produced we counteract them by adding oxidizers/O3

it is a balance that must be checked constantly, if done correctly it makes sense that coral and livestock will be healthier.
 
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