Is my KH is too low for stable water parameters?
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Old 05-08-2014, 05:59 PM   #1
hitmanx
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Is my KH is too low for stable water parameters?


Started a new 5gallon lowtech heavily planted tank back in march. It's open top and I add tap water for evaporation only... no WC

Day 1 (March 19th)

Flourite Black Sand and Mulm (1L), ADA AquaSoil Malaya (3L), with a big hunk of Malaysian Driftwood

Tap water:
gh 25
kh 16
ph 7.8

I started dosing seachem ferts march 29

Dosed
NPK 1.66ml-7.5ml-1ml + 1/16tsp Equilibrium

gh 14
kh 3
ph 7.4

And a month later, the hardness continues to fall with kh at almost zero!!

April 28

Dosed:
NPK 1.66ml-8ml-1ml + 1/8tsp Equilibrium

gh 16
kh 1
ph 6.8

So by May 5th, the date of my last tests, the gh is rising but kh isnt doing much and ph remains constant...

Dosed:
NPK 1.66ml-8ml-1ml + 1/8tsp Equilibrium

gh 18
kh 2
low ph 6.8

My concern is the low kh... I've read that plants like a mid range kh and it also acts as a buffer for ph swings... I have no fauna yet but I want to add shrimp which need constant ph as far as I've read... is the aquasoil really affecting the kh this much?

As reference, my heavily planted 15 gallon that i started march 2nd with flourite black sand only and a large piece of branch driftwood, and using the same tap water to top off only is very different indeed:

gh 30 (steadily rising)
kh 15
ph 8.2
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Old 05-09-2014, 02:33 AM   #2
jrman83
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Have you seen what happens when you do a water change?
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Old 05-09-2014, 02:40 AM   #3
greaser84
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The reason your gh is raising is because your topping off with tap water, when the water evaporates it leaves the minerals behind so it will continue to raise.
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Old 05-09-2014, 03:25 AM   #4
hitmanx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrman83 View Post
Have you seen what happens when you do a water change?
No?

What are you suggesting?

I am trying to adhere to Tom Barr's non-co2 method, so i will only water change if major rescaping is done...
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Old 05-09-2014, 03:31 AM   #5
hitmanx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greaser84 View Post
The reason your gh is raising is because your topping off with tap water, when the water evaporates it leaves the minerals behind so it will continue to raise.

yes, this fact is becoming obvious to me, and is leading to think about using RO water to top off... but the 15 gallon is not the tank i am currently asking about...

until i started dosing equilibrium to the 5 gallon, the gh was actually dropping despite topping off with hard tap water...
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Old 05-09-2014, 04:36 AM   #6
Diana
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I you want to adjust the KH you can use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or potassium bicarbonate.
I have used baking soda to adjust my tap water for hard water fish (Lake Tanganyika tank) and to counter the KH removing properties of Soil Master Select. The ADA substrates do the same thing (remove carbonates from the water).

1 teaspoon of baking soda added to 30 gallons of water will raise the KH by 2 German degrees of hardness.
1/8 tsp potassium bicarbonate added to 1 gallon of water raised the KH by 6 German degrees of hardness.

Tanks can be stable with no KH showing on the test kit, but the pH in my tanks when the KH is zero or so close to zero is at or below the testing limits of hobby level pH kits. I had to get lab grade tests to show that the pH in some of these tanks was in the upper 5s.

If the KH is maintained at 2-3 degrees then the pH is likely to be in the low but testable range of hobby level pH kits. That is, in the low 6s.

Since other things in the water besides carbonates can play a role in determining the pH it is just fine to target both the KH and pH, and when you find a level that works for you then maintain conditions right there.
With a substrate that removes the carbonates you will probably be adding carbonates often.

Another way to do this is to add coral sand, oyster shell grit or limestone sand to the filter in a bag (I use a nylon stocking) These materials will slowly break down and raise GH, KH and pH.
Monitor it, and you can probably stop adding Equilibrium, too.
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