gh/kh/ph tank vs tap questions
I'm writing about a 20gal low tech Excel based planted tank thats been running for 3 years or so. The plants do OK. Not a ton of growth, but some. A good deal of leaf melting in older leafs. I've fought my share of various algae but seem to have it under control at the moment. fingers crossed!
50% WC every 7-10 days
2x AquaClear 30gal filters. no charcoal.
2 water circulators
no air stone
48W T5 HO 6500k 8 hours / day. a little natural light too
Excel, Potassium, Iron, Trace at recommended levels.
1TSP Equilibrium /month
root tabs every 4 months
pH 7.0 - aprox. it swings between 6.8-7.2-ish.
KH 2 *seems low?
GH 2 *seems very low?
Tap 8.5 pH
The main reason I'm posting, is because I recently got myself a Python water siphon. It definitely makes life easier, and the tank seems really clean these days. Algae is down too. But still, the plants aren't thriving.
Do I need to lower the 8.5+pH from my tap, or can I just add it straight? (I still use Prime) Will my tank naturally lower the pH over the next day or so? It seems like a shock to add 8.5ph to a 7.0 tank, and I don't think I want the pH in the 8+ range... right?
For the longest time, when I was doing buckets, I was conditioning my tap water with Acid buffer to bring my high pH tap water (8.5+) down to a reasonable level. However, in doing so, I'm not helping the already low KH levels. I suppose I could use Alkaline buffer to increase KH, but that raises pH, and its already high in my tap water.
Trying to help the plants out... I've been told I should raise KG and GH. What are good ways to raise those levels, and how to do keep the pH in check while doing so? (I was shooting for a target 6.8 for the ph but I know that can be flexible)
How does one do this??
What else could I be doing to help out in this scenario?
Did I provide enough info / make sense here?
Thanks for the feedback everyone.