Water Parameter Question(s)
So coming from a cichlid and salt water world to planted I have a couple of questions about water chemistry, hoping folks can help with. I HATE chasing parameters but I also realize things need to be inbounds a bit. I've always used my own cichlid buffer (epsom salt & baking soda) and kept things pretty stable and been successful....
Because I have a whole house water softener that can't be bypassed I'm going to be using RO water (and sometimes distilled, because its easily available to me).
The tank, I'm in the process of setting up is going to be a low tech / low medium light tank and I plan to stock Cardinal Tetras, some Lampchop Rasboras (Kubotai rasboras) and some Panda Corys. Plants will dwarf sag, Pygmy Chain Sword, ava Fern and Anubias Nana, maybe some Vallisneria and Frogbit.
I mixed up some test water the other day, using 5 gallons of RO water (GH / KH 0, PH 7) and added in 5grams of seachem equilibrium then going back to a tried and true past recipe using baking soda, addd 2 grams of baking soda to raise the KH to hopefully around 5.
The mixed water (sat for 24 hours) ended up at 5 dGH and 5 dKH which I was pretty happy with, but as expected it also raised the PH a bit, to around 7.6. which obviously isn't ideal for the fish I am hoping to keep.
My question is, this, am I overthinking this? I've always tired to keep my KH up to prevent PH swings (and in some cases because the fish like harder water). I've talked to some folks who are just using RO water, Equilibrium and keeping perfectly happy planted tanks with fish (with KH of 0 and PH around 7).....
I'd rather not have to play with other additives to lower the PH and then deal with that whole mess when it crashes (because it will crash....) and I am not a huge fan of running peat moss directly in the tank, although I could use it between water changes in a bucket.
If I cut back on the baking soda to 1 gram or so, my KH will likely stay under 3 and the PH will probably be lower but I was shooting for 4+ KH to provide some PH buffering.
I figure, I'm probably not the only one using baking soda, so I'd be curious to hear feedback / advice.