Community pH-gH-kH Testing Questions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2016, 04:46 AM Thread Starter
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Question Community pH-gH-kH Testing Questions

I never monitored my gH or kH until I added shrimp and snails. The pH out of the tap as far as I knew was stable around 7.2 so I rarely tested it at all.

The results from my gH/kH test is as follows because I am not sure if I am suppose to count the first drop in the conversion chart so I have two numbers/range:
Conditioned tap water: 35-54ppm gH & 18-36ppm kH
Established tank water: 72-90ppm gH & 36-54ppm kH

I tested my pH of the tank and got 7.8 which is a tad bit high? When should I test morning and evening then take an average? Does gH/kH change throughout the day the same way pH does??

As far as I know those are good hardness readings, but my snails will not come out so that sent me into all this plus the addition of hard to find shrimp. The only thing I have besides snails and shrimp is a male Betta + heavy plant load.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2016, 03:26 PM
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I have always counted the first drop.
GH of about 5 German degrees of hardness is just a bit low for snails, not much calcium. Generally my snail's shells disintegrate with low GH, KH and pH.
KH of 3 German degrees of hardness is enough to keep the pH stable, but I am surprised the pH is that high.
Here is how the pH changes through the day:

AM (lights come on) the plants start using the CO2 that the fish created through the night. pH is at its lowest.
Mid day the plants have pretty much used up all the CO2 and continue to use it as it enters the water from the air. pH is at its highest.
PM (lights out) the plants stop photosynthesizing, they stop using CO2. CO2 rises, and the pH begins dropping.

Test the pH at both ends of the day.
If there is a 1 unit drop between AM and PM that is just about right. The water has about 30 ppm CO2. More than this can stress some livestock, and the plants may not be able to use much more anyway. If it hits the highest pH fairly early in the day though the CO2 is not getting replaced as fast as the plants could use it.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2016, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your reply, I will need to research on converting ppm to German degrees because my API kits are all measured in ppm.

My lights come on at 11am and turn off at 9pm so I should check at 10:30am and then 8:30pm?

This particular tank is non-CO2 I use Excel as a Carbon substitute but I do not think it directly effects the pH?
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2016, 05:35 PM
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ppm/17.9=dH

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2016, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melika View Post
ppm/17.9=dH
Conditioned tap water: 54ppm gH & 36ppm kH
Established tank water: 90ppm gH & 54ppm kH


Conditioned tap water: 3.0dH gH & 2.0dH kH
Established tank water: 5.0dH gH & 3.0dH kH

^ Did I do those conversions correctly? (rounded)
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2016, 05:57 PM
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Yup. ^^ My well water has soft water so I was digging through old topics here to figure out if my plants would be happy if I switched to changing with my well water. Here's what I wrote in my "tank journal" (a real paper journal I tape things into and scribble in).

Quote:
Most try for for GH=KH.

General consensus of the Planted Tank "Gurus"-
KH not important.
GH good @3-4 (can even be less).
pH meh.
I was specifically looking just at fish and plants though. I have done some side research for shrimp. The 'gurus' seem to have no real problem with shrimp in these parameters (though I'm not sure they keep shrimp as more than cleaners in their 'scapes). And shrimp-keepers seem to not agree on such things. So I'll try it out and see what happens.

Most useful topic I found in my research: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8-...out-crash.html
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Last edited by Melika; 02-20-2016 at 06:06 PM. Reason: added link
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 01:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, if 3-4 GH is good then mine is a little high; hard?

I use Iodide supplement for my shrimp and had also bought liquid calcium but I am not sure this is the right route to make my water harder as for magnesium is needed too, right?
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 08:31 PM
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What I have written for GH is
very soft 0-4dH
soft 4-8
medium hard 8-12
fairly hard 12-18
hard 18-30

Keep in mind that my goal when looking all this up was to see if soft water with a low pH could support my tanks without being detrimental to my flora and fauna (with regard to future shrimp I could find little information).

If your shrimp are doing well, molting and surviving, and your water parameters are stable... I'm not sure you need to change anything?

I wonder if the shrimp behavior of hiding around the filter is simply because they feel safe there. I can't really tell from the photos but it doesn't seem like there's a lot of plants down in the substrate or moss for them to 'graze' biofilm on? Or they're afraid of the beta. Or maybe they're just not hungry enough to need to move. XD

I don't have nerites so I cannot speak for them.

Living things are always a puzzle. Always so many factors. But that's part of the fun.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2016, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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Question

Well my shrimp may be fine (Amano) but the Ghost shrimp were dying, I have not gotten anymore since I have been using Iodide with water changes. Problem right now is my snails keep dying on me and I can not figure out why, all 6 died. I bought 2 more and they ate for the first 12 hours and have now closed up like the others.

There are tons of plants in the tank just not in that corner where they like to hang out because there is no light to support any plants back there.

I have done a full pH test here are my results, I waited 6 days before testing (1 day before water change). My lighting cycling is 10 hours on 14 hours off. I ran my pH tests 15min before the lights came on and then 15min before they shut off for the day.

My test kit is an API liquid test, I am having a hard time reading it though. The "normal" and "high" ranges cross into each other, it jumps from 7.2 to 7.6 on the test card...then the high range jumps from 7.4 to 7.8

I tested both normal and high ranges, weird thing is both morning and night the high range read 7.8 (orange) I know it was not "bottoming out" on the high range because 7.4 is a bronze color and the tube surely looks orange. However, I got different readings on the normal range. Morning read about 6.9 and night read 7.2 so this confuses me. If my true range is about 6.8-7.2 then why does my high range read 7.8 and not 7.4 (bronze) ?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-14-2016, 10:04 PM
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Hi Teebo, I know you are focusing on your snails now in your other threads, and the Amano shrimp are doing fine. Just a follow up on the GH/KH/pH question. As you know I hadn't tested my very soft, acidic water with shrimp when I was originally posting. Well now I have some red cherry shrimp (which can live in various parameters) that are thriving in my 10g tank set up for them:

GH 0dH
KH 0dH
pH ~6-6.5

Clearly it is unlikely that it is actually 0dH, but low enough that I can't get an accurate reading.

I've had them for several weeks and added nothing extra to the tank. They have successfully molted. I was given 9 shrimplets and at most have counted 6 out at the same time so I'm not sure what the survival rate was but they are significantly bigger! Two have developed saddles. I'm not sure yet if they will be able to successfully breed in this water but so far indications are positive.

I've also learned that some of the Caridina shrimp do well in soft, acidic water with about a 6.5pH; definitely going to get some of those since my well-water seems perfect for them.

Many other shrimp seem to prefer harder water, according to my research. So basically it comes down to the type of freshwater shrimp you want to keep. Amano shrimp are considered hardy and able to deal with many different conditions.


Also I was specifically referring to plants in the substrate, not to all of your wonderful emersed plants. I've seen that you have more submersed plants now than before. Prey animals tend to seek cover or remain near the concealing cover to in order to retreat quickly when there are predators around (especially predators that have tested the tastiness of them)- and won't leave it if they don't have to (to find food, mates, better living conditions, etc.). So maybe target feeding them under the filter is also keeping them there? My shrimp happen to have no predator, are rarely ever fed (they live by grazing on the bio-film in the tank: tank walls, plants, driftwood, leaf litter, intake sponge), and have several shady 'caves' and spots throughout the tank to retreat to if they feel in danger. They move all over the tank while they graze. Sometimes I look at the tank and see no shrimp while other times I look and see them skipping joyfully across the sand like a herd of frisky horses (that was a day I actually fed them).

As for snails My snail population is booming with pond & ramshorn. I haven't tried nerites so I still cannot speak for them in these water parameters. Maybe I should get one as a test?

I gave up and bought a digital pH meter that I could calibrate because of the same issue you described. The liquid test was just too hard to read and too inconclusive. For a quick test I'll use a test strip since so far they seem to be mostly accurate compared with the liquid and digital meter (they aren't perfect, of course).

Anyway, those are just ideas. It's not my tank. You would know best if an idea seems right to you or not when applied to you and your tank/circumstances.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm, you may want to get up to 3dH if you can from my research. I am ordering a pH pen no more messing with API pH tests. I suppose the API liquid pH tests work better for saltwater since the pH is on the high scale. I agree test strips seem easier for testing pH but that's all I would use them for.

Amano shrimp have finally left the filter corner, they live in the cave now and come out in the evening to graze and have become less shy now...my Betta does not bother them at all anymore he is bored with them.

Pond snails reproduce in fresh water don't they? I never want those in my tank haha
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 02:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teebo View Post
Hmm, you may want to get up to 3dH if you can from my research. I am ordering a pH pen no more messing with API pH tests. I suppose the API liquid pH tests work better for saltwater since the pH is on the high scale. I agree test strips seem easier for testing pH but that's all I would use them for.

Amano shrimp have finally left the filter corner, they live in the cave now and come out in the evening to graze and have become less shy now...my Betta does not bother them at all anymore he is bored with them.

Pond snails reproduce in fresh water don't they? I never want those in my tank haha
I'm glad to hear the shrimp behavior changed to something you wanted- I must have missed that tidbit. I still love your tank and the betta that charmed you.

Snails are fortunately easy to get rid of if you want. Popular ways are picking them out (to kill or give to someone with a pea puffer), squishing them on the glass to feed the fish and teach the fish that they are food, or getting an assassin snail. They're fantastic cleaners. My fish in the 46g must have figured out that they can eat the small pond snails because I haven't seen any in a long time. The ramshorns are doing well in that tank though I haven't seen any young ones lately (I think the fish are eating the babies of those too).

I've stopped testing much, to be honest. Sometimes I do. Most of the time I just look at my plants now to see how things are going. Every few weeks, since I'm relatively knew at aquatic gardening, I make sure levels of whatever aren't climbing by doing real testing. Of course, I'm sure if I were troubleshooting a problem then I would be testing like mad!

GH and KH levels seem to be a subject for debate in shrimp-keeping. Who knows how many other parameters factor in to an individual's success other than KH and GH? The reason I'm not worried and willing to try with my current water is because of information like this TPT member quite succinctly put: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9024785-post6.html

I've seen info ranging from "neos aren't picky about GH or KH" all the way to "GH should be 8-10dH for cherries". My understanding is too low GH will cause molting problems- which I don't have judging by the molted shells I've seen. It's possible my test is older than I think it is. I know it isn't actually perfectly 0dH- how likely would a commercial test be that accurate (or the reading of it)? Of course, if my females berry and do not hatch the eggs or something else happens, I can re-evaluate and adapt. At present though, all seems in order.

Long ago, as a professional landscaper for many years, I learned that you can't go by what it says on the tag. You have to follow what the plant is telling you. In my years of working at an animal shelter and through all my years of fish-keeping, this has proven true for animals as well. So while it's intelligent to gather information from other sources, the conclusive source should be the plant/animal itself. For now, I'm waiting to see if the shrimp tell me something needs to change- because so far they're just being happy and healthy.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 03:09 AM
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Gotta tell you, I'm laughing at myself right now. I had some driftwood from the Steinhatchee river that I picked up on vacation at the end of last year. Turns out I picked up some native nerites too. On closer examination today, I noticed that the little white speckles I initially dismissed as baby pond snails that came in on plants (because, hey, I was there to look at shrimp, not my driftwood and I have LOTS of white baby pond snails for the moment) are actually eggs. So I examined the couple of brown snails in my tank and two of them are nerites. Cool. Eggs- not so cool. But whatever. I can say that the nerites are definitely happy. No pitting in the shells or anything (they've been in there since December?).

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 04:01 AM Thread Starter
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An assassin snail will eat the snails I want though, so I choose not to infest.

Wow you got wild nerites to hatch in FW? I did not even think they were wild in the states, at least not the variety we are used to seeing in the hobby.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teebo View Post
An assassin snail will eat the snails I want though, so I choose not to infest.

Wow you got wild nerites to hatch in FW? I did not even think they were wild in the states, at least not the variety we are used to seeing in the hobby.
Olive nerite- Neritina Vittina usnea, native to Florida.

I doubt they hatched. I assume they were tiny (they are still quite small) and on the driftwood which was pulled from the brackish river at low tide. I knew there were "little brown snails" in the crevices of the driftwood but I didn't really look carefully as that tank had no inhabitants at the time and I didn't really care. I can't remember adding any plants to that tank that might have contained hidden snails... all the pond snails came from my big tank. I took some and threw them in the 10g and they've exploded their population since then.

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