Help me understand my high pH, GH and KH - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Help me understand my high pH, GH and KH

125g planted aquarium kept at 80F with weekly 50-60% PWC. Been up since November, filter is a FX6 and I have a Hydor Koralia Powerhead on opposite end (1150 gph). Stock is:
  • 40 Rummynose Tetra
  • 10 Cory Aeneus
  • 10 Sterbai Cory
  • 5 Pearl Gourami
  • 4 Angelfish
  • 3 GBR
  • 4 Nerite Snails

Will be adding pressurized CO2 in near future (equip on order) - currently dose Seachem products (Prime for PWC, Excel, Flourish, Trace, Iron). Also adding a lot more plants next week once package arrives.

Overall tank has been quite stable, other than high PH. My house is on a water softener. I tested today and had following on my tank water (yesterday was PWC):
  • Ammonia: 0
  • Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: 0
  • pH: 8.4
  • KH: 409ppm (23 drops)
  • GH: 356ppm (20 drops)

I just now tested my tap water, which was likely a bit cooler than 80F and came up with following:
  • pH: 7.4
  • KH: 320ppm (18 drops)
  • GH: 178ppm (10 drops)

Now, I do know that my tap water pH jumps quite a bit as it off-gasses. I have let it sit for a few hours and retested and my pH is in line with tank. Does this also explain the KH/GH or could something in my tank be affecting it?

What does this mean for my dreams of a beautiful planted tank? Anything I should do or worry about?

Thanks,
Jamie
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 06:55 PM
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What are you using for substrate?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqua99 View Post
What are you using for substrate?
Sorry, meant to add that: 150lbs of pool filter sand. Osmocote roots tabs under root feeders.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 07:28 PM
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Do you have crushed coral in the filter ? dolomite ?
10 °dGH increase over tap water is pretty high. From the plants side of things I do not foresee great problems. You might consume great amount of CO2 to get it to the right conc. but that's it. Looking at the selection of fish listed, I think most of them would be more suitable in soft water, even softer than your tap. Combine this with the water softener on the house and I would strongly advise you to invest a little bit in a Reverse Osmosis unit.

Now there is still the question of what increases the GH/KH ? Since we are looking at a large increase I think we can remove evaporation/top-off as a factor. Perhaps the wood is leaching something back. More likely would be the substrate. Take a cup of substrate, drain and dry it. Put a small volume of distilled (KH 0 GH 0) or tap water over it. Wait a week and see if the GH KH or TDS increases.

How fast is the increase ? Does it stabilize or does it continue to climb ?

On hiatus till later this year
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Filter has bio-media that came with it and an extra bag of Seachem Matrix. Also am running Seachem PhosGuard and Purigen. Beyond that is just filter pads.

Pool Filter Sand is 100% silca and everything I have ready states it is 100% inert. So I would think that has not done anything to the tank parms.

My driftwood stump floats like crazy so I zip tied it to rocks to keep submerged. Now, it took a LOT of rocks to do so and I did grab a few from my yard that had been dug up when planting things. As I'm in IL it is pretty likely these are limestone. Would 4 or so 5-10lb rocks have a big affect in 125g? If so would it raise as much as it did so soon after a 50% PWC?

I do have a RO system in house. It is plumbed to a drinking water nozzle next to kitchen faucet and also runs in the in-fridge ice make/water. It has a small (2.5 gallon) water storage tank attached to it in basement. Honestly with current use of a Python No Spill Water Change/Fill system, I can't imagine lugging buckets of RO water to do a 60 gallon change (or even half that). Also not sure how I'd build that much up each week.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamieson22 View Post
I do have a RO system in house. It is plumbed to a drinking water nozzle next to kitchen faucet and also runs in the in-fridge ice make/water. It has a small (2.5 gallon) water storage tank attached to it in basement. Honestly with current use of a Python No Spill Water Change/Fill system, I can't imagine lugging buckets of RO water to do a 60 gallon change (or even half that). Also not sure how I'd build that much up each week.
I'm not necessarily recommending it, but it can be done. See my journal for my RO system with storage for 110 gallons, and how to pump it up to the tank.

Are you on a well? That KH is pretty high. The strange thing is that if you are coming through a water softener, and it's working well, your GH should be at about zero from the tap. Softener won't affect the KH at all.

Now the GH difference between the tank and tap? That's a pretty big change, and I have no idea what is going on there.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 10:05 PM
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There is something calcareous lurking in your tank. Something is definitely mineralizing your water. The source should be removed. I'm sure that it is the limestone. The same thing happened to me once. I found a piece of limestone in the yard and put it in the tank. After you remove it, I would reduce the tap water's GH by 30 to 50 ppm with RO water in future water changes. About 10 gallons RO water per 50% water change should be enough. This problem will not be a game stopper if corrected. Sorry about all the rework.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-03-2017, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice. I went back to a reference from about two months ago and my GH was 125 (7 drops) in tank. I just can't imagine the limestone in my tank would add 13dGH would it?? Especially with 50-60% weekly water change and one of them was just yesterday. Would it really leech that much in a day?

Any other ideas for things (guaranteed to be inert) to weigh down the driftwood? The rocks were to be temporary but after 5 months in tank it wills till not stay submerged on its own. Here are the ones in use. Hard to tell now after diatom/algae growth but the one in first pic on right I believe is limestone. Had 2 others that I replaced 2 months back wondering if they were issues. I THINK rest is slate/granite?
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-03-2017, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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I was just doing some retesting and came to some realizations:

1. To save some time on GH, I did 2 drops at a time before shaking. I did again with 1 drop at a time and my result came back in 11 drops (196ppm) but MAY have been 10 (178ppm) instead of 20.
2. I just tested tap water again and GH turned in 8 drops (142ppm)

That being said: With a smaller GH differentiation between faucet and tank, are there more possible explanations?

Apologies on mis-steer, I would have thought 2 drops at once would have simply gotten me there quicker with a only uncertainty if it was the 1st or 2nd drop before shaking that caused the change.

Not to get ahead of myself, but seems CO2 ppm is driven by KH and pH, no? Should I be targeting to bring my pH down by more than 1 to get adequate CO2? with pH of 8.4 and KH of 23? I am off any charts I have seen to estimate
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-03-2017, 12:52 AM
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Help me understand my high pH, GH and KH

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamieson22 View Post
I was just doing some retesting and came to some realizations:



1. To save some time on GH, I did 2 drops at a time before shaking. I did again with 1 drop at a time and my result came back in 11 drops (196ppm) but MAY have been 10 (178ppm) instead of 20.

2. I just tested tap water again and GH turned in 8 drops (142ppm)



That being said: With a smaller GH differentiation between faucet and tank, are there more possible explanations?



Apologies on mis-steer, I would have thought 2 drops at once would have simply gotten me there quicker with a only uncertainty if it was the 1st or 2nd drop before shaking that caused the change.



Not to get ahead of myself, but seems CO2 ppm is driven by KH and pH, no? Should I be targeting to bring my pH down by more than 1 to get adequate CO2? with pH of 8.4 and KH of 23? I am off any charts I have seen to estimate


I think you should also retest your KH one drop at a time. Shake the bottle good before putting in drops. Also no need to shake the vile hard just some simple tips will do the trick.

Remember for the KH test you are looking for it to just turn from a blue to a light yellow. Really look at it hard before each drop. Sometimes hard to tell so do it by light and you will notice.




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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-03-2017, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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So I had done single drops on KH test originally, but I just retested again from the tank to verify results. Drop 16-17 I noticed yellow where the drop went in but when mixed the vial solution remained blue. On drop 20 there was a visible color change from blue to yellow in entire vial. It is pretty clear as the blue of my solution looks like toilet bowl cleaner. It is VERY blue.

I will test tank again before my next PWC and see how things compare.

Will also see about switching the rocks but only replacements I have on hand are Ohko and Seiryu and I know Seiryu messes with water parms. The Ohko is either a 2.5lb or 13lb piece. May have to hold till landscaping places open back up in a couple weeks to get good rocks.

Would I get booted from forum for using a 13lb piece of Dragon Stone solely as dead weight to hold driftwood? LOL
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-03-2017, 04:47 AM
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I really think you found it. Figured it would either be the substrate or possibly those rocks. I'd still do like @dukydaf mentioned and test the sand if your issues aren't resolved with swapping out the rocks. I know it should be 100% quartz/silica, but there isn't much else to be suspect of.

I don't know if it would help in your situation with that huge piece, but I've had luck holding down larger pieces of driftwood with slate tiles from Home Depot. I took a whole tile and drilled 2 holes near the center, arranged the driftwood above the tile as needed, then tied it down to the tile. The substrate then can be used as additional weight on the tile.

Btw- Beautiful looking tank!
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-03-2017, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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I don't know if it would help in your situation with that huge piece, but I've had luck holding down larger pieces of driftwood with slate tiles from Home Depot. I took a whole tile and drilled 2 holes near the center, arranged the driftwood above the tile as needed, then tied it down to the tile. The substrate then can be used as additional weight on the tile.

Btw- Beautiful looking tank!


Thanks for compliment!


Will need to look into slate tiles and see if it can work. Initially the idea of screwing on a slate base was nixed as the stump BARELY fit into tank so any attachments would have needed to be done in tank.
24" zip ties seem to be easiest thing to use to anchor so perhaps slate drilled with a small loop of zip-tie to attach to would be easy. Could always add rocks on the slate as well if additional weight was needed. Main issue is the stump only has 2 or so contact points to substrate making it hard to hold down.


Oh well, looks like a wet-armed weekend project ahead of me! Thanks for all the help everyone!
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