Hard Water and nutrient issue?> - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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Hard Water and nutrient issue?>

So i have read conflicting information that hard water does effect plants ability to use ferts. just looking to anyone that has had first hand experience with hard water and their plants was algae a uphill battle for you along with plant health. im just afriad that my hard water will serverly limti what i can put into my tank and will likely cause my headache then enjoyment. im still in planning stages but want to get all my ducks in a row.

i dont have specific water params yet but will in a few days, i can tell you that my ph is around 7.8-8.0 and has a very high buffering capacity as we have a pool and i use tons of muratic acid to get the ph down so that the chlorine is effective. we have lots of tds in our water to the point that we will get buildup on water fixtures and some iron staining (well water)

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 06:54 PM
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i dont have specific water params yet but will in a few days, i can tell you that my ph is around 7.8-8.0 and has a very high buffering capacity.
Your PH is too high for most fertilizers. The common iron salts used will break down at that PH and the iron will not be available. You probably will get better results by mixing your water with RO water. This will also lower your TDS. Ideally you want your PH between 6 and 7. I don't have hard water but I have found my plants do better with low KH.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 08:13 PM
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Hi @GreenIntentions,

"Hard Water" is relative....is 8.0 dGH 'hard'? Is 12.0 dGH 'hard'? Hard, alkaline water can add challenges to keeping certain plant and fish species but so can soft, acidic water. With a pH of 7.8 - 8.0 you can certainly have a nicely planted tank, here is a link to a thread as an example. Are your currently experiencing problems and would like some guidance or are your just asking out of curiosity? Looking forward to your water parameters.

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75 Gallon, 2X55W AH Supply CF 8800K, 1X 59W Fluval Plant (3.0); 45 Gallon Tall, 1X 46W Fluval Plant (3.0); 30 Gallon Long; Fluval F&P 2.0; 20 Gallon, 1X26W AH Supply LED; all with CO2 & (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Surf View Post
Ideally you want your PH between 6 and 7.
At @Surf, just curious, what is your degassed pH. I don't of anyone here that I follow with a degassed pH below 7, and wondering why you are saying between 6 & 7 is ideal?

You have any pictures of this tank with that low of pH? Would be curious to see what you are keeping and learn more about your set up.

Now back to the OP, there are many plants that will do fine in higher pH. Before I went to RO water, my pH was close to 8 and high TDS (well water through a softener). Wasn't too many plants I couldn't keep.

Now things did get easier and better with RO, but that's a big commitment and it all depends on your goals and what you want to accomplish.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 09:43 PM
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Semi related, but what form of chlorine do you use in your pool? Tri-chlor should resolve your pool pH issues.

What's your tap water pH after it has degassed for 24 hrs?

My tank journal.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 11:17 PM
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At @Surf, just curious, what is your degassed pH. I don't of anyone here that I follow with a degassed pH below 7, and wondering why you are saying between 6 & 7 is ideal?
If you exceed a PH of 7 iron will likely precipitate out and may not be available to plants. At present He has not stated anything about CO2. So I didn't mention CO2 because he has not stated if he is using CO2.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the reply's so far everyone! seems like i am going to need to get you guys some numbers before i can get any specific help with possible issues that i might have with my water which is understandable. Nothing setup yet still in planning phases but problems i had years ago with same water was slow growth and dye off. would dose and then get algae... ive fought with a few types of it and just dont want to get back into the hobby and have a uphill battle the whole time. I find its easier to work WITH what you have instead of having to mix this mix that so on and so forth.

End goal is just a moderately planted tank with mostly stem types and a few crypts with some moss. not really wanting to get into any of the carpeting type plants but if water params allow im going to jump into this with both feet. not wanting a super high light E.I tank or anything like that but i definitely want to try a 5lb c02 setup with some "decent" lights. i have been looking at the fluval mega flex but still waiting on it to hit stores. ive also read that co2 can alter your ph but with my water having such a high buffering capacity i doubt that will happen but then again ive never messed with c02.

about the pool chlorine i use hth stuff was a bit rocky at first but got it all sorted with a regimen of muratic acid been 3 seasons and no algae or cloudy water issues.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-27-2018, 12:39 AM
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If you exceed a PH of 7 iron will likely precipitate out and may not be available to plants. At present He has not stated anything about CO2. So I didn't mention CO2 because he has not stated if he is using CO2.
OK I get that.

So not considering CO2, you recommended an ideal pH of between 6 & 7. Again, I don't know of one successful tank here at those levels.

Just wondering what you base that on? What success have you had with that? Have any documentation? Pictures?

Seriously, I am really curious. I am always open to learning.

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ive also read that co2 can alter your ph but with my water having such a high buffering capacity i doubt that will happen but then again ive never messed with c02.
You will have no problem lowering pH with CO2, and your tank will benefit.

When I used softened well water, my KH was very high, no issue at all with CO2 injection.


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Last edited by Darkblade48; 12-27-2018 at 11:03 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-27-2018, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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You will have no problem lowering pH with CO2, and your tank will benefit.

When I used softened well water, my KH was very high, no issue at all with CO2 injection.
so your saying my ph will lower with co2 regardless of my kh? now is this going to go lower and lower every day until a wc or lower while on then gradual rise when off? with my plan i dont want to deal with all the pickiness of a high light system and have read that roughly 15ppm of co2 works ok with low light setups. with that being said will i still see a noticeable decrease of ph at 15ish ppm?
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-27-2018, 02:52 AM
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so your saying my ph will lower with co2 regardless of my kh? now is this going to go lower and lower every day until a wc or lower while on then gradual rise when off? with my plan i dont want to deal with all the pickiness of a high light system and have read that roughly 15ppm of co2 works ok with low light setups. with that being said will i still see a noticeable decrease of ph at 15ish ppm?
CO2 is a weak acid that will temporarily reduce pH. The higher your KH (carbonate hardness), the more CO2 required to reduce pH. The CO2 absorbed in the water will be released into the atmosphere once you stop injecting CO2, so your pH will slowly go back up at that point.

Many of us swing 1.0 pH or more, and some like @Greggz have what I would consider high KH.

I think the point @Surf was trying to make revolves around chelating agents. You don't need to understand anything other than chelates keep minerals (Fe in this case) in solution (your tank water) longer than without. Once the chelate unbinds from the Iron ion, the Iron can precipitate out of solution and sits on your substrate in an "unavailable" form. I put quotes around unavailable because I have not seen evidence that it cannot still be used by roots or attached to loose chelates.

Some chelating agents, such as EDTA, unbind quickly at higher pH, so we prefer to use DTPA chelate when pH is over 7. At pH over 8, EDDHA is the best option, but it stains your water color pretty badly.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-30-2018, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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ok so i took a trip to the lfs today and asked as many questions as i could, they did test my water but did not test for gh/kh and said its not really something i will have to worry about with planted tanks. i brought up the solubility issue and they basically said the same thing as nate did. so with all this i guess i just wanna consider the hardwater issue closed.... for now and again thanks everyone for your input! now on to finding some plants i like and want to try then more homework on them then ill order everything.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-31-2018, 01:40 AM
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ok so i took a trip to the lfs today and asked as many questions as i could, they did test my water but did not test for gh/kh and said its not really something i will have to worry about with planted tanks. i brought up the solubility issue and they basically said the same thing as nate did. so with all this i guess i just wanna consider the hardwater issue closed.... for now and again thanks everyone for your input! now on to finding some plants i like and want to try then more homework on them then ill order everything.
High tech planted tanks are something of a specialty. I live in an area with many LFS and, while they think they know what they are talking about, I've yet to find one that truly understands the dynamics of this sub-hobby, i.e.; it is important to know your GH and KH when playing with high-tech planted tanks.

In your case, I'm wondering if iron dosing is an issue at all, given the "iron staining" you mentioned (unless it's actually manganese staining). You may have enough iron in your well water to do the job. I have a friend whose well water has .7 ppm iron (he has a special iron filter to deal with it). You can get inexpensive test kits for iron that are somewhat useful. In any case, if your pH is persistently high, you can dose iron gluconate, such as Seachem's Flourish Iron, which will not be affected by pH.
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