Low Tech, Soft Water: Flourish or Equilibrium? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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Low Tech, Soft Water: Flourish or Equilibrium?

Hello!


I've recently set up a 27g cube tank (20x18x20) and after a few days, tested the ph with an API kit and got the minimum: 6.0. I tested the water out of the tap a few times and get around 6.8.


I did some googling and our county lists its water as very soft quoting 16mg/l calcium carbonate. My goal is a low tech planted tank though I am adding excel at the recommended dosage. I've also seen people suggest equilibrium in a low tech tank or flourish, given my water conditions, should I go with equilibrium? Both?


I was thinking of dosing every week or every other week. And again, my question is, given the softer water, is equilibrium the better choice for my plants?





I've kept an imgur "journal" which I've posted other places, so I'll link that here as it has all the details and visuals you might need to know what's in the tank, but in summary, it's mostly slow growers: java fern, buce varieties, anubias b and a couple of crypt w.


https://imgur.com/a/KOL0Qi7
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 12:16 PM
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Flourish Comprehensive and Equilibrium aren't the same type of product. Equilibrium is used to raise your GH ( general hardness ) and will add calcium, magnesium and potassium. Flourish Comp is a trace element supplement and adds elements such as Fe, S, B, Mn, Mo, etc.

With low GH water where Ca or Mg may be in short supply, a lot of tanks benefit from the addition of a GH booster. Most planted tanks will require a trace element supplement as well.

https://www.seachem.com/equilibrium.php
https://www.seachem.com/flourish.php
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jeff5614 View Post
Flourish Comprehensive and Equilibrium aren't the same type of product. Equilibrium is used to raise your GH ( general hardness ) and will add calcium, magnesium and potassium. Flourish Comp is a trace element supplement and adds elements such as Fe, S, B, Mn, Mo, etc.

With low GH water where Ca or Mg may be in short supply, a lot of tanks benefit from the addition of a GH booster. Most planted tanks will require a trace element supplement as well.

https://www.seachem.com/equilibrium.php
https://www.seachem.com/flourish.php
Jeff, thanks for the reply. I know they're not the same, but I had read that Tom Barr recommended 1/4 tsp of Equilibrium a week per 20g of water if using a low tech system. This was a while ago, so I didn't know if that was still in favor.

I was think of following his recommendations and also adding some potassium nitrate, and based on what you typed above, it seems like I should does some kind of micro? For the potassium nitrate and micros, I was thinking of getting glosso factory, is that a good product?

I'm still not sure if my tank will need some sort of calcium added with my tap water being 16mg/l in calcium carbonate, I believe that's <1 KH, is that correct? I was wondering if the equilibrium would be beneficial in my case with soft water.

thanks again for the reply, really appreciate it!

Matt
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 02:03 PM
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As jeff5614 explained, GH is the measurement of your calcium and magnesium. This value determines whether your water is hard or soft... not KH, which is the measurement of carbonates/bicarbonates in your water. In other words, KH is the total alkalinity of your water. This value can be high even with soft water. Carbonates are responsible for buffering your pH. Your nitrifying bacteria, as well as certain plants will also consume these carbonates while metabolizing. You would need to use baking soda or potassium bicarbonate to raise KH value. Some remineralizers like SaltyShrimp KH/GH+ also contain a certain amount of these bicarbonates.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 05:47 PM
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Tom Barr's recommendations for low tech dosing would be good to follow. Equilibrium is good to use to bring your GH up a bit if needed.

The ferts from Gloss factory would be fine. Of course buying dry and making up your own solutions would be a lot less expensive and last you a really long time in comparison, but if you're not into that then a commercial liquid fert would be the way to go. I do like that the ferts from Glosso Factory provide you with the amount of NO3, PO4, etc. contained per ml.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for taking the time to reply and educate me. This water hardness business confuses me.

I went ahead and ordered the glosso stuff and the equilibrium, I think with my smaller tank, I'll get a lot of uses out of it, I may be brave enough to try my own dry fertz next time.


Again, thank you!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Hello, I wanted to follow up in this thread for some advice on the above issue.

I got my API GH/KH test kit today, it took 2 drops of solution to get the GH target color and 1 drop of solution to get the KH target color (in both cases the color was very feint and i had to use a white background to verify), so my ~parameters as of this morning were:

ph: 6 or less (yellow on api test kit)
GH: 1-2d
KH: 0-1d

I added 1/2 tsp of baking soda (no fish, only plants in the tank at present), waited ~30 mins, and retested the KH and ph.

ph: 6.4 - 6.6
KH 1-2d (took 2 drops of solution to turn yellow, again very faint color)

I've been following the low-light/low tech version of the EI dosing schedule that Tom Barr has so basically the following:
1/4 tsp KNO3
1/16 tsp KH2PO4 (in the mail, so not added yet)
1/16 tsp micros
1/2 tsp Seachem Equilibrium

I do this 1x a week during water change.

At present, I perform about a 37% water change once a week as the tank cycles and the driftwood leeches into the tank, my goal is to reduce this to about an 18.5% water change every month or every other month.

My question is, how often will I need to add baking soda to the tank under these circumstances, outside of water changes, is anything removing the carbonates from the water (plants are some crypts, java fern, anubias b, anubias n petite and assorted buce)?

I'm happy to maintain a 6.4 - 6.6 ph and KH of between 1-2d unless there's a reason I shouldn't be, should I add around 1/5 of a tsp during my 37% water changes going forward to maintain that, or do I need keep measuring and dosing accordingly?

Again, thanks for your help!
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