Interview with Claude Schuhmacher on the balling method from Fauna Marin

By on Jan 13, 2010

We’re excited to bring you this interview of Claude Schuhmacher about the balling method from Fauna Marin. This interview was done by a local reef club. Enjoy!

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Choosing a supplement method for Ca, Kh and Mg to your reef aquarium nowadays can be a headache. Classical kalk stirrer reactor isn’t enough for a crowded coral aquarium. A calcium reactor isn’t also newbie friendly, and it has many variables which you need to control, media quality, pH inside the chamber, water input, it has also the ability to lower pH from your aquarium by increasing dissolved CO2, sometimes leading to algae problems and coral bleaching.

Many years ago, Hans-Werner Balling, a German reefer, developed a method for supplement your reef with calcium, sodium carbonate, magnesium, trace elements, and amino acids, which was named after “Balling Method”. The greatest benefits of this method are control and stability. We all know how important stability is while maintaining SPS corals.

So here at H2O + Something we decided to get the opinion of one major expert in this matter, German Claude Schuhmacher, from Fauna Marin, developer of “Balling Light Method”.  We ask him some questions. Here is our interview:


Hi Claude. It’s a real pleasure to have you here. Thank you for time. We would like to ask you some questions about Balling method in order to clarify some of our doubts. Here in our club most of us are using the Balling method.

Q: What is Balling Light Method and why should we use it instead the “original” Balling method?

Claude Schuhmacher (CS): The Balling light method is a  development of the classical method. Modern reef aquariums have differents needs of Major and Trace Elements and also the new modern reef salts brings chemistry in the tank.The Balling classic system is calculated based on NSW , but our tanks do not use NSW they use today’s reef salts and ULNS Systems with a total different amount in Trace elements.

The light method make things easy and fast to handle , there is no need weigh the salts and no need to think about ionic imbalance. Only 3 canisters are required to achieve total control and stabilized system with all necessary Elements.

Q: One of the things where the Balling Light Method differs from the Classic Balling Method is the addition of Magnesium. What´s the need of adding two salts ( Magnesium Chloride-Hexahydrate and Magnesium Sulfate-Heptahydrate) to the same solution in order to obtain a Magnesium solution? If we are using this, we don’t need to dose NaCl free salts?

(CS): The balling light method only uses one magnesium salt.  The Sulfate part is not necessary, because it brings to much Sulfate in the system and it brings not the balance which is calculated long time ago in the balling classic Version.

Q: Which concentration should we use to prepare Ca Solution? 2Kg in 4L of reverse osmosis water or the “original” concentration of 71,5 g/L?

(CS): The best is to use the actual balling light Method like the manual says.. The higher concentrations and the clear weights make it easy to set up the system

Q: Previous question leads me inevitable to another one:  When making the three solutions ( Ca, kH and Mg) and adding them to the tank, do they need to be added in the same proportion such as 5ml of Calcium, 5ml of Carbonates and 5ml of Magnesium or one can dose depending on the tank need, such as 5ml of Calcium, 12ml of Magnesium and 7 ml of Carbonates?

(CS): The classical version was calculated on that way that all solutions have to be added in the same proportion. The light version works on a different way. In depending the coral growth , the sea salt which is used and the chemical situation in the tank the right dosage comes automatically.

If you start to dose you make a first dosing check, after this check you know how many you have to dose in your tank. A weekly check brings you step by step to the perfect dose for every salt

Q: Can the Balling Light Method contribute to ionic unbalance on the long run if not done right? What would it be the consequences of this ionic unbalance?

(CS): The balling light salts are salt mixes which are used together with the Trace Elements  TRACE B , if you use the complete set there is no inbalance in the system. Very important to this is also the regular water change of 5 – 10 %, to check and balanced the salinity of the system, this happens automatically with the Water change.

Q: Aquarists tend to search for the less expensive and sometimes doubtful products when opting for this type of methods. There are salts that cost $10/Kg and others that cost $2/Kg. There are salts that turn translucent when diluted in water and there are salts that turn yellow/brown when diluted in water. What should the aquarist expect when buying a good/bad salt for the Balling Light Method?

(CS): We use salt mixes not single salts for this methods, all salts are laboratory tested and contains no unwanted Trace Elements. Normal salts are made by a special process which brings some ammonia in the salts after the production and also unwanted trace elements. On long time run this elements brings unwanted Algea grow and Brown corals.

Fauna Marin Balling light salts contain also special marine biopolymers and some minerals. The salts and Polymers stabilize the PH Level and increase color and grow of the corals. Normal salts cannot do this and after long time run the PH level will fall. With the balling light system all these problems will not happen.

Q: Why should we use trace elements such as Fauna Marin heavy-metal-complex? It’s for supplementing these elements directly to corals? Or as I once read in a reef forum, their toxic effect on zooxanthellae will enhance corals colours?

(CS): The Fauna Marin Elements did not work with a toxic effect. Trace B elements are the base for coral growth and coloration and are needed to increase the stability in the system. This is a benefit for all habitants like corals, fish and other. To recolor corals or make special effect we have separate elements, but they did not work like a basic  (Trace B).

Q: Have you ever observed coral growth boost due to the use of strontium complex? Why do you recommend using this?

(CS): Strontium is not a Trace Element it is a Macro element. We think that the natural level will be the best so we add so much Str in the tank that the ratio will be like in NSW. If there is no grow you did not add trace elements, if there is a use of Ca then you add automatically the right amount of STR in a fix ration to the usage of the calcium

Q: What’s the role of Iodine-Fluorine Complex in your method? Does this product enhance coral colours?

(CS): YES and it helps in some enzyme and cell reactions. It protects the corals and help to stabilize the system

Q: If we have an Ultra Low Nutrient System, do you recommend adding Amino acids to any of your 3 solutions? Or should we add it separately?

(CS): Not for the balling light system this is a complete system and did not need any more solutions. In a tank with heavy load we use ULTRAMINS as a coralfood based on amino acids

Q: Finally, what advices can you give to our readers that are interested in using this method alternatively to the calcium reactor but are scared to manipulate chemicals and adding them to their tanks?

(CS): Use the Fauna Marin light method , the advantages are great providing you use Fauna Marin salts, we can to guarantee good results if you do not, with cheap salts too many risks can happen. You did not need to calculate and weight salts, Every parameter is singled to control, there is no possibility to overdose the trace elements, easy in use and cheap in buying.

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