Boston Aqua Farms Frag Plugs - Question on Curing

Boston Aqua Farms Frag Plugs - Question on Curing

Postby mpedersen » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:56 pm

I picked up some Frag Plugs recently from my local shop. After looking at a jumbled mess of rubble on egg crate that routinely gets toppled by snails, I figured the plugs would be beneficial! http://www.bostonaquafarms.com/default. ... prod=plugs

Unfortunately, I didn't read the "fine print" until I got home. Apparently these plugs are made of Aragrocrete and have been cured for 30 days in freshwater before being packaged for sale. The instructions go on to say that basically they'll need to be further cured. This, from the website:

Plugs and Discs are cured in fresh water for at least one month, water is changed every 1 - 2 days.
Adding freshly cured concrete plugs to salt water can sometimes start a second shorter cure cycle, therefore it is highly recommended that you continue the cure process by storing your plugs in a bucket of water (changing the water every few days) and pulling from the bucket as needed. Changing the water often will speed the cure process, some place the plugs in their toilet tank in order to constantly change the water. It is never a good idea to add a large ammount of plugs/discs to your system at one time. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding our curing process or the number of plugs you should use in your specific system.


So now I have these plugs soaking in RO water. I've tested the pH once and it was off the charts on the high end. While I had been hoping to simply place these all straight into my tank when I purchased them, I now have these things that I can't use as intended and am honestly a bit worried about placing in my tank! Frankly, I'm surprised that a company like this, knowing the risks of placing these in the tank, would purposely package them at a condition where, if they were all just placed into my tank, could KILL everything in my tank.

So my questions (which I will be sending to them as well) :

#1 - Can I speed the "recuring" process by soaking in Vinegar?
#2 - How many plugs could be added to my 24 gallon tank at a time?
#3 - How will I know they are done curing and pose no risk to be added to the tank?
#4 - Are there any other concerns when using a product like this?
#5 - Why not fully cure the plugs for IMMEDIATE use?

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Postby Spracklcat » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:04 pm

I don't know why they don't cure them fully--I'll see if I can ask Jon from Boston AquaFarms.

Yes, you can add a little vinegar to the soaking water. People do that commonly when curing home-made arago-crete rock. That said, I've used them fresh out of the bag before and had no problems at all. (I don't think I saw those instructions, or didn't read them :P) Chances are the amount of water you are putting them in, in the tank, is more than enough to dilute the extra OH. I say go for it, and just keep an eye on your pH.
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:34 pm

Spracklcat wrote:I don't know why they don't cure them fully--I'll see if I can ask Jon from Boston AquaFarms.

Yes, you can add a little vinegar to the soaking water. People do that commonly when curing home-made arago-crete rock. That said, I've used them fresh out of the bag before and had no problems at all. (I don't think I saw those instructions, or didn't read them :P) Chances are the amount of water you are putting them in, in the tank, is more than enough to dilute the extra OH. I say go for it, and just keep an eye on your pH.


Well to give you an idea, I'm soaking 20 plugs in a 1 qt. container with R/O. The pH of the RO water is already very low compared to our tapwater (tap is 7.8, the RO is off the bottom of my high range test). Within 24 hours there are bubbles everywhere and the tested pH is higher than 9 (it's off the top of my high-range test kit).

I read in places that aragrocrete may need to be cured for 16 weeks (4 months)?

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Postby Brad_D » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:52 pm

4 months seems a bit extreme. I make aragocrete frag plugs and usually cure them for 4-6 weeks. For small batches I just put them in the toilet reservoir and take them out as I need them. Change the water every couple of days until the pH doesn't go over 8 and you're fine.
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Postby TheCoralShoppe » Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:32 am

And so now you know Matt why people came up with Ceramic and Plastic Frag Plugs! Yout not going to contaminante the tank as much as the corals will not appreciate being gluded to the plugs. We have also had problems with them crubling apart after time being in the systems. We choose floral piks. Still the easiest and cheapest method out there.
Mike Meadows, President
The Coral Shoppe div.
The Coral Conservation Company, LLC.

216-459-0265-Office
CoralConservationcollc@gmail.com
http://www.coralshoppe.com
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Re:

Postby Spracklcat » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:14 am

Brad_D wrote:For small batches I just put them in the toilet reservoir and take them out as I need them.


now that is brilliant. Way to conserve resources!

:)
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Postby mpedersen » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:19 pm

Got a lot of great responses from Jon Simmons @ Boston Aqua Farms.
I'm not gonna repost his entire email, but suffice it to say he did some simple math which readily explained why my 1 quart holding water could go above 9 pH in 24 hours whereas putting even all 20 of those plugs in my tank wouldn't do that :)

I.e:

First, 1 qt is only a little more then 1% of your total tank volume, putting 20 plugs into 1qt is the equivalent of 80 plug/gallon, or 1920 plugs into your 24gallon cube.


FWIW, I have to point out that if you ask, they give you a rule of thumb which is you an ad 1 plug per gallon per week to your system. So in my case, I could add 20 plugs to my tank every week.

I gotta say, as much as I still think they should cure them longer (I realize that amoung other things, it's a business decision to try to NOT sit on inventory longer than you have to), they are providing top-notch customer service.

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Postby Greshamh » Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:50 pm

Couple things...

Toilet use - leads to replacing internal parts of toilet far more ofter (3 replacements in two years until I gave up on that method)

Ceramic - BOF has ceramic ones on the way, I've got a 100 here I'm testing for Jon :)

Why Jon doesn't cure them fully - time/space is a HUGE factor. BOF is not a full time gig for Jon (he's got a day job) and all is done at his house. With limitted space and a HUGE demand he simply can not keep them around for as long as they need to cure.
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Postby Spracklcat » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:36 pm

I emailed Jon as well, and he took the time to answer all of the above questions and more. Now that's good customer service :)
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Re:

Postby KathyL » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:13 pm

mpedersen wrote:Got a lot of great responses from Jon Simmons @ ...suffice it to say he did some simple math which readily explained why my 1 quart holding water could go above 9 pH in 24 hours whereas putting even all 20 of those plugs in my tank wouldn't do that :)

I.e:

First, 1 qt is only a little more then 1% of your total tank volume, putting 20 plugs into 1qt is the equivalent of 80 plug/gallon, or 1920 plugs into your 24gallon cube.


...
Matt


Not to mention, RO water is not buffered, and our tanks' saltwater IS. Makes all the difference!
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:26 pm

KathyL wrote:Not to mention, RO water is not buffered, and our tanks' saltwater IS. Makes all the difference!


But isn't the thing with our water that it's buffered against a FALLING pH, not a rising one (which is what the plugs would cause)?

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Postby Spracklcat » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:03 pm

Buffers protect against a change in pH, it doesn't matter up or down.
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Re:

Postby Brad_D » Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:21 am

Greshamh wrote:Toilet use - leads to replacing internal parts of toilet far more ofter (3 replacements in two years until I gave up on that method)


What parts were wearing out? I have been doing this in both toilets in my house for about 18 months and have not seen any problems.
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Re:

Postby Greshamh » Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:34 pm

Brad_D wrote:
Greshamh wrote:Toilet use - leads to replacing internal parts of toilet far more ofter (3 replacements in two years until I gave up on that method)


What parts were wearing out? I have been doing this in both toilets in my house for about 18 months and have not seen any problems.


And most likely your water supply is different in terms of hardness, etc, then mine ;) NJot to mention or mixes could be different and amounts put into the tank could very. The sfapper is the first to go, but even the regulator gut junked up.
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Postby Brad_D » Sat Mar 01, 2008 7:54 pm

Thanks for the tip Greshamh! It looks like I should pick up a spare flapper the next time I go to Home Depot. I really shouldn't complain, any excuse to go to a tool store is a good one :).
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Re:

Postby Greshamh » Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:19 pm

Brad_D wrote:Thanks for the tip Greshamh! It looks like I should pick up a spare flapper the next time I go to Home Depot. I really shouldn't complain, any excuse to go to a tool store is a good one :).

:lol: Very true. I just got excited the other day as now I have to visit one of the local metal surplus/recycle yards for a project. I love going to that palce :D
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Postby mpedersen » Sun Mar 02, 2008 8:33 pm

Well guys, I should followup to say that I did place 20 of the plugs into my 24 gallon SPS tank and did not see any spike in pH...it's been flat at 8.0 for the past couple days since adding the plugs :)

FWIW,

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