Drop checkers, KH stability and aeration - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-26-2010, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Drop checkers, KH stability and aeration

Dear All,

I need your comments on the following items:

1) We use drop checkers when there are other factors in the water column like organic acids, tannis etc which may cause a further drop in pH. I want to understand how these factors in the water cause a pH drop. Is it just like how CO2 does, i.e. by freeing H+ ions? The cause must be something different than that, mustn’t it?
2) The color of the solution in a drop checker actually leads us to the pH of the test specimen inside the drop checker but not directly to the CO2 amount of the same. Then, as a result of the pH reading, we can make an estimative approach to the CO2 amount in the aquarium water which eventually has to be the same with the specimen. If this is the case and testing liquid is nothing more than just an ordinary pH test liquid, why do some testing liquids include just a 3-color comparison card in the product package which are blue, green and yellowish light green? Isn’t it still possible to have insufficient CO2 in the tank water due to its dependency of KH value even if the specimen color indicates a “good” green? If this statement of mine is correct, I don’t want to believe that what is given to us as user instruction in the prescription of the drop checker is totally misleading. Moreover, not to mention that some test kits advise us to put the tank water into the drop checker instead of recommending mixing it with a KH 4 buffer solution!!! Green color really indicates “good CO2 amount” if and only if in the range of certain KH values, doesn't it?
3) Does heavy aeration by a very strong air pump during the night time cause any stress on fish due to the high noise of bubble production?
4) Is it possible for a substrate to consume more HCO3 day by day in order to keep the water always acidic while you add more and more NaHCO3 to keep KH at 4 and therefore to provide the optimum CO2 at pH 6.65 at 27°C (80.6°F)?

I have a tank in which KH continuously decreases day by day. On the other hand, I must tell that pH seems to be more stable than KH!!! I am using RO water for water changes, using Seachem Equilibrium to adjust the general hardness to 35ppm (2 dGH), maintaining a heavily planted tank -with Discus and RO water for the first time- at a 27°C (80.6°F), using a CO2 regulator-controller-cylinder system at pH 6.65 by adjusting KH to 4 by adding baking soda (NaHCO3) at every 50% water change per week and also whenever required during the week. The target CO2 is 30ppm. Other water values are:

K= 20-30ppm
PO4= 0-0.3ppm
NO3= 5-10ppm
NO2 and NH4=0ppm
Fe= dosing every day for 0.1 ppm (it’s never been more than 0.5 ppm at a time)
Ca= 10ppm
Mg= 3ppm
Actual CO2= I am not sure and this is what matters. Comparing drop checker color with a standard pH test comparison scale it looks OK.

I am new to Discus fish and RO water and having some problems with stabilizing the water values, especially KH and therefore CO2. Further questions may follow soon based on your feedback.

Note: Aqua Soil Amazonia that I use is a substrate known as a pH reducer.

Many T(h)anks,
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 04:11 PM
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Not sure I completely understand your statement regarding drop checkers. The idea is that the dissolved co2 in the water will reach equilibrium with the air in the drop checker, which will then reach equilibrium with the solution in the drop checker. Since there is not water contact, you cannot have any transfer of tannins, or other water chemistry. If you are worried about the degradation of the drop checker solution, you can always just change the solution more frequently.


After reading you post a few more times,

1) I think you are asking how the drop checker works. You seem to think that the drop checker solution is only pH testing solution. Actually it is a precise 4 dkh solution with pH indicator added. As the KH is constant, the co2 can be relatively precisely monitored.

2) Just like any other tool, you do not need to follow the drop checker to the "perfect light green". It is an indicator, and you can decide that your tank grows best under a blue-green, green, or even a yellow if your fish can handle it.

3) I would not worry about the noise, a river/lake is pretty noisy in nature.

4) Baking soda is not a very strong KH buffer, it will only provide temporary gains, I will leave reccomendations for someone with a Discus tank.

Last edited by theredben; 01-27-2010 at 04:14 PM. Reason: understood a little more
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theredben View Post

4) Baking soda is not a very strong KH buffer, it will only provide temporary gains, ...
That's the first I've heard that. But then most any additive used to increase KH will only be temporary if there's a demand.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
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That's the first I've heard that. But then most any additive used to increase KH will only be temporary if there's a demand.
Baking soda is a very temporary fix, crushed coral lasts much longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tutquarium View Post
I have a tank in which KH continuously decreases day by day. On the other hand, I must tell that pH seems to be more stable than KH!!!
Your plants are depleting your KH because they're using it as a source of carbon. One question for you, why are you using RO water and then replenishing it with equilibrium?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-28-2010, 05:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you gents for your replies and sorry for my original post that is not well-organised.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theredben View Post
1) I think you are asking how the drop checker works. You seem to think that the drop checker solution is only pH testing solution. Actually it is a precise 4 dkh solution with pH indicator added. As the KH is constant, the co2 can be relatively precisely monitored.
Thanks for your reply. But my question was whether the chemical reaction of tannis or any pH reducer substance with aquarium water is identical to what CO2 does.

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Originally Posted by theredben View Post
2) Just like any other tool, you do not need to follow the drop checker to the "perfect light green". It is an indicator, and you can decide that your tank grows best under a blue-green, green, or even a yellow if your fish can handle it.
Its color will fade out, so you need to change the liquid frequently and moreover it will work like "an indicator" only. If this is the case, it is the time for me to put it aside too and listen to my senses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theredben View Post
3) I would not worry about the noise, a river/lake is pretty noisy in nature.
Some rivers/lakes are, some are not. In the nature, fishes probably would find a decent area inside the water to have a good rest and protect themselves from the possible threads while unconcious. I've just replaced the diffusers with a pair of new classic air stones. Now air particles are formed like a mist, not like air bubbles so the noise has gone.

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Originally Posted by theredben View Post
4) Baking soda is not a very strong KH buffer, it will only provide temporary gains, I will leave reccomendations for someone with a Discus tank.
I heard this before. I also heard that phosphate-based KH buffers are more resistant. But why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post
That's the first I've heard that. But then most any additive used to increase KH will only be temporary if there's a demand.

SteveU
Hmmm, you have a point there. See below.

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Originally Posted by exv152 View Post
Your plants are depleting your KH because they're using it as a source of carbon.
Perhaps, phosphate will not be depleted as quick as HCO3 is so a phosphate-based KH buffer is more resistant (or stronger I must tell). Can it be?

Thanks, exv152. So a KH buffer -I am talking about NaHCO3 in fact- is actually a nutrient source as well. Yes of course it has HCO3. Sometimes connecting the dots are not easy although it happens before your eyes. In this case, this depletion is normal and even beneficial to the plants not only in terms of CO2 regulation but also as a direct nutrient. Then we must top up it everytime we felt/measured a reduction in KH of the tank water. How can we make KH measurements more practical? Isn't there a pen-like device for KH measurements in the market, just like TDS meters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by exv152 View Post
One question for you, why are you using RO water and then replenishing it with equilibrium?
I am currently resident in Bahrain and a high percentage of tap water is desalinated from the sea by large RO plants and the water is still too hard. I wanted to give a try to RO water because without doing something in person, what you hear from other people is not just enough. A second reason is that I thought Discus would not be happy with the quality of my tap water. A third one is that I like buying equipments to make me feel more miserable :-)

Many T(h)anks,
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-30-2010, 02:56 AM
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...How can we make KH measurements more practical? Isn't there a pen-like device for KH measurements in the market, just like TDS meters?
I'm not aware of any such device on the market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tutquarium View Post
I am currently resident in Bahrain and a high percentage of tap water is desalinated from the sea by large RO plants and the water is still too hard. I wanted to give a try to RO water because without doing something in person, what you hear from other people is not just enough. A second reason is that I thought Discus would not be happy with the quality of my tap water. A third one is that I like buying equipments to make me feel more miserable :-)
If you treat your tap water with dechlorinator you can then add it to your RO water to achieve the pH, KH and GH levels you need, instead of spending money on the equilibrium. Besides, discus need the trace elements for their own health.
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