Doe's pH and Alkalinity Matter? And What is GH/KH? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Arrow Doe's pH and Alkalinity Matter? And What is GH/KH?

Hey PTF!
I have heared many people saying, "pH doesn't matter unless you are breeding," or stuff like that, and I am wondering if having a very high but steady pH really makes a diffrence in the health of plants and fish. I have also heard that plants are effected by stone hard water, and I am wondering of this is true. So, "Does it really matter?"

I am also a newbie to advanced water parameters, so any help understanding GH and KH or what ever those are in greatly appreciated!
Jake

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 08:39 PM
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Fish and plants adapt to whatever pH you have, anything from 6.0 to 7.9/8.0 is OK unless your trying to breed them. Anything under or over than that starts to get tough on the fish but OK for the plants.

The abridged version is: gH/kH is the thing to worry about, when you have a big pH swing the gH/kH changes which is what kill the fish. Your shooting for a steady pH within the general tolerances.

- Brad

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bradac56 View Post
Fish and plants adapt to whatever pH you have, anything from 6.0 to 7.9/8.0 is OK unless your trying to breed them. Anything under or over than that starts to get tough on the fish but OK for the plants.

The abridged version is: gH/kH is the thing to worry about, when you have a big pH swing the gH/kH changes which is what kill the fish. Your shooting for a steady pH within the general tolerances.

- Brad
Ok, thanks Brad! So the gH and kH are pH? Or am I missing somthing?
Jake

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 09:34 PM
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kH can determine the pH of the water, so the two are related.. Take distilled water at a pH of 5, and add a bunch of baking soda and it will have a pH of 8 or so. This is because the kH was raised.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 09:43 PM
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GH has NOTHING to do with pH. pH is the buffering capacity (carbonate and bi carbonate) KH. Low KH will allow the water to become acidic and or unstable but has nothing to do with GH which is primarily Ca and Mg.


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 09:47 PM
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Ok, so if you have a pH value of 7.5, a KH value of 0, and a GH of 2, does this mean your water is okay?

I am completely confused.


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 09:49 PM
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Sorry for the underlined caps above,, odd day at work and read a couple of posts in this string and just drove in. The link to Rex's site has a very good and direct explanation of the whole deal in aquarium terms.

http://www.rexgrigg.com/waterchem.htm


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
GH has NOTHING to do with pH. pH is the buffering capacity (carbonate and bi carbonate) KH. Low KH will allow the water to become acidic and or unstable but has nothing to do with GH which is primarily Ca and Mg.
True, kH is 'carbonate hardness' which is the 'buffering capacity' of the water but I was trying to keep this simple instead of having thirty different answers and not getting the underlying point across.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 09:55 PM
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Ok, so if you have a pH value of 7.5, a KH value of 0, and a GH of 2, does this mean your water is okay?

I am completely confused.
No, it means you have very soft water and no buffering capacity. Nearly distilled or RO unit striped water. GH from 3-10dGH and KH anywhere it lands out of the tap above 3dKH as a safe baseline. Below 3dKH as Brad posted and the water can become unstable in it's pH which measures as 7 neutral, Acidic below 7pH and Alkaline above. Below 5.5pH It can really start hurting things.

Gaining even a basic understanding of this within a forum format is difficult at best.
Rex's link posted above covers it very well. Sorry to any offended, I 'happy finger' few and far between for the most part. Again it's been a tense day and I probably should read and not post.


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 10:00 PM
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Well the person I bought some BTs told me I need to have a GH value of 3 and a KH level of 0-3. So I am gathering, I should get the dKh levels up then.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 10:15 PM
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What I've been doing.
Post filter the water reads .01 TDS, drop tests for GH and KH go to end point on the first drop of reagent.

I never measure pH on the RO. I test GH + KH. What I do with it depends on which tank by whats in the tank. The KH I raise with baking soda. The GH I raise with Rex Grigg "Grumpy's GH Booster" If its just for fish and plants I usually set GH at 4 or 5dGH, if the tank has Brigs snails the minimum is 8dGH that I set.
Baking Soda = Arm & Hammer (generic may be OK) but I use A&H. Using leveled TSP measurements this what I think I get with it.
1/8 tps/6.65gallons of water = 1dKH
1/4 tsp/13.21g = 1dKH
1/2 tsp/26.42g = 1dKH so you can figure your volume from there.

2dKH usually tests as 6.8-7pH
3dKH = 7.2-7.4pH
pH readings are water w/o CO2 injected.

Generally used is the 1/2 tsp increments for me or doubled to 1 tsp.
With a gram scale 1/2tsp has weighted 2.2g repeatedly.

Hope some of this helps.


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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
GH has NOTHING to do with pH. pH is the buffering capacity (carbonate and bi carbonate) KH. Low KH will allow the water to become acidic and or unstable but has nothing to do with GH which is primarily Ca and Mg.
However attempts to raise the GH usually raises the KH which in turn will raise the pH.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 11:00 PM
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I'm also a newbie struggling to understand the chemistry behind aquarium water parameters (for breeding purposes), so learning about pH, KH, and GH have been a priority. Because forum threads on the topic usually only confuse me, I hope no one minds if this beginner imparts a few of the basics he's picked up recently:

wkndracer is right, GH is unrelated to pH and KH.

pH, as you likely know, measures the acidity/alkalinity of water, or the ratio of free floating hydrogen ions (H+) to hydoxide ions (OH-), on a logarithmic scale between 1 and 14. I imagine you understand pH, but if not feel free to ask more.

KH, or carbonate hardness, is directly related to pH. It measures carbonate and bicarbonate ion concentrations, and reflects the buffering capacity of water. This is the water's ability to prevent fluctuations in pH. The higher the measure of KH (on whatever scale, I have found several), the more stable the pH. Extreme (or even minor) changes in pH can be detrimental to fish and plant health, so it is important to maintain water with some KH (RO/DI water, for example, has none).

GH, or general hardness, is what is usually referred to by the term "water hardness." It measures metal cations in the water, specifically calcium and magnesium. I do not know if it includes the concentration of other metals or only these. It does not affect pH or KH in any way, but rather is a completely separate parameter.

On a side note, GH is related to both TDS (total dissolved solids) and conductivity. TDS is a measure of, you guessed it, all the dissolved metals in the aquarium water, including some not counted in the GH measure. For this reason, TDS can often be used to give a good approximation, but never an exact measure, of GH. The attractions between the metal ions measured in GH and TDS is what affects the conductivity of water, and so these three parameters be used to approximate each other.

Different fish and plants, have different preferences for each and every one of these parameters. Usually they do best in water than closely mimics their natural environment, although many species can adapt to a wide range of conditions. For breeding purposes (and possibly for the propagation of certain tricky plants) the conditions may need to be replicated more exactly.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2010, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voozle View Post
I'm also a newbie struggling to understand the chemistry behind aquarium water parameters (for breeding purposes), so learning about pH, KH, and GH have been a priority. Because forum threads on the topic usually only confuse me, I hope no one minds if this beginner imparts a few of the basics he's picked up recently:

wkndracer is right, GH is unrelated to pH and KH.

pH, as you likely know, measures the acidity/alkalinity of water, or the ratio of free floating hydrogen ions (H+) to hydoxide ions (OH-), on a logarithmic scale between 1 and 14. I imagine you understand pH, but if not feel free to ask more.

KH, or carbonate hardness, is directly related to pH. It measures carbonate and bicarbonate ion concentrations, and reflects the buffering capacity of water. This is the water's ability to prevent fluctuations in pH. The higher the measure of KH (on whatever scale, I have found several), the more stable the pH. Extreme (or even minor) changes in pH can be detrimental to fish and plant health, so it is important to maintain water with some KH (RO/DI water, for example, has none).

GH, or general hardness, is what is usually referred to by the term "water hardness." It measures metal cations in the water, specifically calcium and magnesium. I do not know if it includes the concentration of other metals or only these. It does not affect pH or KH in any way, but rather is a completely separate parameter.

On a side note, GH is related to both TDS (total dissolved solids) and conductivity. TDS is a measure of, you guessed it, all the dissolved metals in the aquarium water, including some not counted in the GH measure. For this reason, TDS can often be used to give a good approximation, but never an exact measure, of GH. The attractions between the metal ions measured in GH and TDS is what affects the conductivity of water, and so these three parameters be used to approximate each other.

Different fish and plants, have different preferences for each and every one of these parameters. Usually they do best in water than closely mimics their natural environment, although many species can adapt to a wide range of conditions. For breeding purposes (and possibly for the propagation of certain tricky plants) the conditions may need to be replicated more exactly.
Thank you very much for sharing. This really helped me! I understand the basics of pH and water hardness (gH).

Thanks all for the help! I really appreciate it.
Jake

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