If you do only one thing today to improve the performance of your shellfish tank, make it this:
Test the pH of your water.
Test strips for pH are available from your local pet shop, online retailers or Todd Fisheries Technology. The strips can test for pH, Alkalinity, General Hardness, Nitrate and Nitrite. There are separate strips available to test for Ammonia. All of these are important, and in an ideal world you would have a perfect reading for them all. However, if your pH is out this will affect the health of your shellfish but it is quick and easy to fix.
Your pH reading in your live shellfish holding system should be between 8.0-8.2 (slightly alkaline). The pH can drop over time making the water more acidic, due to the activity of the biological filter. If this happens gradually, healthy lobsters can cope ok. Low pH can cause your livestock to be stressed, lethargic and weak. Adding new animals to a system with low pH can be fatal. As you know, happy and healthy shellfish can achieve a higher price at market. There is no market for dead shellfish.
Don’t panic! If you have tested your sea water and it is too acidic, you simply add Sodium Bicarbonate. This will buffer the pH and bring it back up to optimum levels. You can buy this in the supermarket as baking soda (NOT baking powder!). Make sure you don’t add too much at once, as shellfish do not like pH shocks. We would recommend adding around 500g of Sodium Bicarbonate per 1000L of water per day. You should aim to raise your pH by no more than 0.5pH points per day, until you reach the optimum level.
With all of our new shellfish systems, we provide water testing kits. Until the system is fully mature, our customers send us weekly water samples so we can test all of the water parameters in our lab. We offer advice to all of our customers but we’re happy to chat to you if you’re having any challenges with your system.