Co2 in soft water - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Co2 in soft water

I'm not sure how many people are using co2 in soft water, but after adding a new water heater in my dorm my ph went extrodinarily soft, and my ph crashed. This was before I was interested in my plants, but i thought i'd share a solution i have to steadily declining ph, which is a side effect of co2. Alot of threads i read recommend baking soda to raise your ph after the co2 lowers it, but if you have as soft water as i do, that only fixes it for a couple hours, however if you put crushed coral into your filter, it will steadily raise the ph, and you wont have to mess with measuring baking soda every water change
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 12:40 AM
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This is puzzling. A water heater should have no effect on pH, new or otherwise. And, CO2 can't "crash" the pH. The lowest you can drive the pH with CO2 is around 5.5, which isn't a problem for either fish or plants, unless it is very sudden, and it isn't that sudden with CO2. Adding baking soda should raise the KH for a lot longer than a couple of hours. Unless the plants are consuming the carbonates the KH should remain for many days, if not weeks.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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Well the water i had before we switched out the water heater was hard, and it wasn't easy to manipulate the ph. I had a friend who kept fish who enjoyed high ph's and he would complain about it. After they changed the heaters in the dorms the water's ph was very hard to keep stable, and the crushed coral not only stabalized the ph, but it can raise the ph. I wasn't claiming the co2 can make the ph crash, but it does lower it, and the crushed coral would be an easy way to keep the ph up. Just thought i'd share some information that helped me
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 10:17 AM
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CO2 induced pH swings are irrelevant. You won't kill your fish with co2 induced pH swings. You might suffocate them, but nothing to do with pH.

Stable pH is essentially the ONLY pH value that matters. Using crushed coral to raise it has draw backs. Every water change it will drop and then slowly come back up... These swings are stressful for aquarium inhabitants.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 01:36 PM
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Having no idea how the heating system is tied into a large dorm building I am curious does the building have a steam system or radiator heating?


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 01:40 PM
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True. If your ph doesn't fall below 5.5 (and you can't lower it any further with Co2 injection), don't mess with it. I see people who desperately trying to raise their ph even when nothing's wrong with their fish and flora. Lower ph is not a big problem, but ph swings are-my $0.02

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 01:47 PM
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maybe they added a water softener/filter?? hard water deposits can significantly decrease a hot water heater's life. i dunno...

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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I completly agree, stable ph is way better, I add a small bit of coral to keep my ph that comes from the tap, which is a solid 7 from fluctuating too much. I wasn't sure how much a ph can fall due to co2, but mine fell quite low, and killed off the majority of my fish, and the few plants i had thrown in there.
to wkndracer: i have no clue what kind of heater they installed, I know they put backup electric heaters in, but I'm not sure what the main heater is
to overstocked: so co2 induced ph swings wont hurt my fish? I was a little worried about that, if i added an airstone at night, do you think i would have to remove the co2 at night, or would my fish be ok?
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 12:15 AM
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What most likely happened is when they replaced the boiler all of the mineral sediments that were keeping the water as hard as it was were lost. They build up in large quantities in these types of applications, so it's not horribly surprising. Try taking a look at what comes out of a normal house when its water heater is flushed, and that's a minimal amount compared to these large boys they install in dorms.


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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 12:24 AM
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I have coral sand in some tanks and filters for hard water fish, AND I add baking soda to new water when I do a water change. This way there is no swing in parameters when I do a water change, and the coral sand replaces the minerals that are removed by the substrate. I have Soil Master Select in some tanks, and Turface in others. These 2 will remove the KH from the water, within a few days (not hours). Then the pH will drop. It happens slowly, not a crash. Still, not good for Rift Lake fish.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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yes, but if you didn't have the coral in the water my bet would be the ph change would be a lot faster. I'm not trying to argue that baking soda doesn't change the water conditions, it obviously helps, i just think coral would be a good addition as well. I'm also not saying the co2 was what caused the ph crash, that happened well before i added co2, i've just been more aware of my ph since this happened, and noticed that my ph was fluctuating a bit after i added co2.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 04:47 PM
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Your pH is supposed to fluctuate if you are adding CO2. Not exactly sure what your issue is but generally if you are injecting approx. 30 ppm of CO2 your pH will drop about 1 full point, this is normal and pH drops caused by CO2 do not harm your fish.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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ok good to know, i didn't really have a problem, just thought i'd share a solution that helped buffer my ph in soft water, the ph change with adding co2 was what sparked my memory about it.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 11:39 PM
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Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but adding the coral to the filter effectively increases the waters hardness; and the harder your water, the more buffering capacity it has, thus a more stable pH. So that's why adding the coral stabilized your pH.

Now the whole thing about the water heater crashing your pH is beyond me, but I do know that soft water is more susceptible to pH fluctuations b/c of its low buffering capacity.

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-10-2010, 01:21 AM
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How much coral must one add to the tank to raise the pH?
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