Tap Water has 0 Hardness - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Question Tap Water has 0 Hardness

So i set up my tank the other week, and I noticed that the ph in the tank was at 6 or below all the time. My tap water was testing near 7. I add co2, but the tank ph was that low before i set it up.

My guess was that my hardness was low, so the ph was just dropping as the water sat. Sure enough, I ordered a test kit and both the gh and kh are at the lowest level the kit can test for.

I guess I'll have to do something like get the Seachem Alkaline and Acid Buffers along with their Equilibrium to start my water at the right parameters every time I do water changes. Are there any other options?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 02:31 PM
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Any remineraliser aimed at RO would work just as well on tap without much hardness. You might be able to get a water report from your supplier than will give you more accurate levels than a home kit just to double check.

Seachem is popular but there are other brands too.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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either way, i need to get the gh and kh up, or my tank will never cycle and the plants will probably melt. the exact levels don't really matter to me, because either way they are waaaaaay too low.

i've always liked seachem stuff, so i haven't really looked at other products.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 03:25 PM
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I would simply get the Equilibrium for GH only. For KH, I would stay away from these buffering products. They tend to make pH unstable in the end. Just add some crushed coral, aragonite, or other form of calcium carbonate to your filter in a mesh bag or stocking. That will raise and maintain KH to a reasonable level. You could add a little baking soda in the meantime if you need to raise KH quickly for whatever reason. I use this for measuring:

Sodium Bicarbonate for an increase of 1 dKH

1 tsp/ 60 gallons
1/2 tsp/ 30 gallons
1/4 tsp/ 15 gallons
1/8 tsp/ 7.5 gallons
1/16 tsp/ 3.75 gallons
1/32 tsp/ 1.875 gallons
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 04:16 PM
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by k2focus View Post
either way, i need to get the gh and kh up, or my tank will never cycle
The tank will still cycle with low ph, just might take a while!

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by k2focus View Post
So i set up my tank the other week, and I noticed that the ph in the tank was at 6 or below all the time. My tap water was testing near 7. I add co2, but the tank ph was that low before i set it up.

My guess was that my hardness was low, so the ph was just dropping as the water sat. Sure enough, I ordered a test kit and both the gh and kh are at the lowest level the kit can test for.

I guess I'll have to do something like get the Seachem Alkaline and Acid Buffers along with their Equilibrium to start my water at the right parameters every time I do water changes. Are there any other options?

Thanks.
Hi k2focus,

Welcome to TPT!

Where I live I have very soft water as well; tap water @<1.0 dKH and <2.0 dGH. When Tom Barr visit our local club (GSAS) I asked him what water parameters he suggested since he has soft water in the San Francisco area where he lives. He stated he doesn't worry too much about dKH as long as there is sufficient to avoid 'pH crash' especially when using CO2 - I target about 3.0 dKH and add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to increase my dKH. As for dGH Tom said he targeted +/- 5.0 dGH or 2.0 dGH greater than the tap water if the dGH is already over 5.0 dGH. I use a GH booster to increase my dGH. My DIY GH Booster current version (4.0) is (by volume; not weight):

3 parts CaSO4*2H2O (calcium sulfate / aka pure gypsum)
1 part MgSO4*7H20 (magnesium sulfate/ aka Epsom Salt)
1 part K2SO4 (potassium sulfate / aka sulphate of potash)

1 teaspoon per 8 gallons provides:
14.3 ppm Ca
3.32 ppm Mg
18.97 ppm K
and increases the hardness by 2.77 dGH

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

In terms of crushed corals - the tank is small (57L), so i'd rather stay away from crushed coral. Every time I do a water change I will be adding water with nearly zero hardness, and with the co2 it will probably cause a ph crash.

I did use baking soda today to get the kh to about 4 degrees. my only concern about adding water with gh booster and kh booster/baking soda only is that the ph will be really high at first then plummet after my co2 turns on.

I think i might start with the gh booster and baking soda for a while to see how it goes (don't worry. no fish yet).

If nothing goes too crazy during water changes then that might be enough.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 12:01 AM
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It should achieve the same thing, but good plan to monitor awhile without the fish to see how it works. You do expect some ph change. Even in my low tech, GH6 KH3 I get about 8.2 to 7.4 between lights on/off. Fish don't mind.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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i will definitely get a ph swing no matter what. but the current parameters just won't work - kh=0, gh=0, ph < 6

The baking soda already did the trick. It bumped my kh up to 3 and ph up to about 6.4. It's been like 8 hours, and the kh dropped, but the ph stayed the same. I'm hoping it's just a matter of figuring out how much baking soda to add to the clean water buckets during the water change.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 07:04 AM
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Two thoughts I thought I'd throw out there.

First, if you have a buffering substrate such as ADA Amazonia or Fluval Plant and Shrimp, stop adding KH as the soil maintains a pH for you. You do need a small amount initially to cycle the tank, but after that, you don't want to add any more KH than you can help. This allows the soil to work longer.

Second, don't worry about pH at all - swings from CO2, changes from water change, etc. People have been dropping 1 full point in an hour every day for years with healthy fish. It's not the pH that's the issue, it's the KH. Unfortunately, all the crap we have in the hobby about pH is because we used to use pH as a proxy for KH since we didn't have KH test kits that were affordable. Having low KH is fine as long as you aren't trying to use a pH controller for CO2 injection. My dKH is always under 2 (in my non-buffering substrate tanks).
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 10:34 AM
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Im no expert but if I had water like that, Id just get fish that like acidic conditions. There are tons of great fish that come from black water conditions who would love your tank! I kind of sort of have your problem. My water is super soft also but the water treatment company adds baking soda to raise the ph. It still comes out soft but the ph is in the high 7s.
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