Raising KH with Baking Soda - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Raising KH with Baking Soda

My parameters are PH 6.6, GH 3, KH 0/undetectable (first drop is yellow). I did a little bit of research and put almost 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water in my cycling (which i'm having some issues with) 40 gallon. It raised the PH to somewhere around 6.8-7.0, GH 3, KH 4. I only need it around KH 2 since I just want my PH to stay stable even though i've never seen it drop; just want to take precautions.

My question is, is it safe to do this long term to ensure there is some buffering capability in my water? If so, should I try to keep it at the same number all the time? Example would be if day 1 I add enough to get to KH 2, 2 days later it dropped to 0 or 1 KH again, would I add more baking soda to make up for it or wait until end of the week water change?

If not, what would be a good product to use for just KH? (although baking soda is pretty cheap!) I don't have access to crushed coral and ordering online would make for hefty shipping fees.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 08:14 PM
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My parameters are PH 6.6, GH 3, KH 0/undetectable (first drop is yellow). I did a little bit of research and put almost 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water in my cycling (which i'm having some issues with) 40 gallon. It raised the PH to somewhere around 6.8-7.0, GH 3, KH 4. I only need it around KH 2 since I just want my PH to stay stable even though i've never seen it drop; just want to take precautions.

My question is, is it safe to do this long term to ensure there is some buffering capability in my water? If so, should I try to keep it at the same number all the time? Example would be if day 1 I add enough to get to KH 2, 2 days later it dropped to 0 or 1 KH again, would I add more baking soda to make up for it or wait until end of the week water change?

If not, what would be a good product to use for just KH? (although baking soda is pretty cheap!) I don't have access to crushed coral and ordering online would make for hefty shipping fees.
What is your substrate?

adding 2 degrees of kH will not = 0 in a few days if using inert substrate. Soils like ADA aquasoil eat up kH so 0 is perfectly fine, you won't have any pH swings using a buffering substrate.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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What is your substrate?

adding 2 degrees of kH will not = 0 in a few days if using inert substrate. Soils like ADA aquasoil eat up kH so 0 is perfectly fine, you won't have any pH swings using a buffering substrate.
I'm using pool filter sand. Is it safe to just make sure KH is 2 with baking soda after doing water changes then?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 08:46 PM
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Why do you assume that your pH will swing wildly, especially as you don't observe this happening? Then, assuming it swings, why do you think it is bad? For example, pH swings in all CO2 injected tanks daily...


IMHO you'll do more harm than good by your baking soda. Don't fix what is not broken. Your water is great as it is, the majority of plants prefer low KH anyway.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Ravynn View Post
My parameters are PH 6.6, GH 3, KH 0/undetectable (first drop is yellow). I did a little bit of research and put almost 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water in my cycling (which i'm having some issues with) 40 gallon. It raised the PH to somewhere around 6.8-7.0, GH 3, KH 4. I only need it around KH 2 since I just want my PH to stay stable even though i've never seen it drop; just want to take precautions.

My question is, is it safe to do this long term to ensure there is some buffering capability in my water? If so, should I try to keep it at the same number all the time? Example would be if day 1 I add enough to get to KH 2, 2 days later it dropped to 0 or 1 KH again, would I add more baking soda to make up for it or wait until end of the week water change?

If not, what would be a good product to use for just KH? (although baking soda is pretty cheap!) I don't have access to crushed coral and ordering online would make for hefty shipping fees.
I've used NaHCO3 to buffer KH in some capacity for quite a while now. My main salt currently is KHCO3, which I use to bring my KH up to 1, and then I typically add a bit of NaHCO3 just to provide a little sodium in the water. Using only NaHCO3 to achieve a KH of 1-2 is fine though, I did it for quite some time. As already stated, your KH won't shift unless you have a buffering substrate or have stones that leach, but the stones would drive KH up, not down.

For cycling, it's better to have a more alkaline pH as you maybe aware. So driving KH up to 4 and running an air stone isn't a bad idea. Also keeping the temps in the upper 70's, lower 80's will help as well.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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I've used NaHCO3 to buffer KH in some capacity for quite a while now. My main salt currently is KHCO3, which I use to bring my KH up to 1, and then I typically add a bit of NaHCO3 just to provide a little sodium in the water. Using only NaHCO3 to achieve a KH of 1-2 is fine though, I did it for quite some time. As already stated, your KH won't shift unless you have a buffering substrate or have stones that leach, but the stones would drive KH up, not down.

For cycling, it's better to have a more alkaline pH as you maybe aware. So driving KH up to 4 and running an air stone isn't a bad idea. Also keeping the temps in the upper 70's, lower 80's will help as well.

I'm glad to know it's safe long term. I was just reading that during the nitrification proccess that there's something to do with the bacteria also eating up KH as a means of energy. It's a planted south american tank that will have soft water fish due to my soft water but I just didn't want anything going too... south.

I'm assuming i've been having trouble cycling my 40 because my other tanks have play sand that raises the PH to 7.4, GH to 4.5, and KH to 2.2. I took ceramic media and sponges from those and used 250ml of Seachem Stability, temp is at 80F. Stuff kind of stalled with insane amounts of nitrites and nitrates. I figured it's possible it has something to do with having no KH at all.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 03:29 AM
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I've used NaHCO3 to buffer KH in some capacity for quite a while now. My main salt currently is KHCO3, which I use to bring my KH up to 1, and then I typically add a bit of NaHCO3 just to provide a little sodium in the water. Using only NaHCO3 to achieve a KH of 1-2 is fine though, I did it for quite some time. As already stated, your KH won't shift unless you have a buffering substrate or have stones that leach, but the stones would drive KH up, not down.

For cycling, it's better to have a more alkaline pH as you maybe aware. So driving KH up to 4 and running an air stone isn't a bad idea. Also keeping the temps in the upper 70's, lower 80's will help as well.

I'm glad to know it's safe long term. I was just reading that during the nitrification proccess that there's something to do with the bacteria also eating up KH as a means of energy. It's a planted south american tank that will have soft water fish due to my soft water but I just didn't want anything going too... south.

I'm assuming i've been having trouble cycling my 40 because my other tanks have play sand that raises the PH to 7.4, GH to 4.5, and KH to 2.2. I took ceramic media and sponges from those and used 250ml of Seachem Stability, temp is at 80F. Stuff kind of stalled with insane amounts of nitrites and nitrates. I figured it's possible it has something to do with having no KH at all.
Could be. I haven't heard about the interaction between beneficial bacteria and KH, but I don't doubt you. I just know from reading that BB tend to prefer an alkaline pH, which goes hand in hand with KH.
Maybe I should go check the KH in my three tanks currently cycling, lol. Haven't done anything but top offs now for a month with an initial starting KH of 1... wonder if that's zero now!
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 09:35 AM
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For every gram of ammonia oxidised into nitrate 4.8 grams of oxygen is used, 7.14 grams of calcium carbonate is used
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 02:26 PM
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Why do you assume that your pH will swing wildly, especially as you don't observe this happening? Then, assuming it swings, why do you think it is bad? For example, pH swings in all CO2 injected tanks daily...


IMHO you'll do more harm than good by your baking soda. Don't fix what is not broken. Your water is great as it is, the majority of plants prefer low KH anyway.
Well, with a dKH of 0, and inert substrate, they run the risk of fluctuating parameters if anything is added that could possibly have an effect. IMO, raising the dKH to 2 degrees could be wise, given the inert substrate, to ensure stability, and is still low enough KH for plants that prefer that to be lower.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 07:48 PM
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I have:

For every gram of ammonia oxidised into nitrate 4.8 grams of oxygen is used, 7.14 grams of calcium carbonate is used
7.14 grams of alkalinity as calcium carbonate. It doesn't specifically have to be calcium carbonate.

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If not, what would be a good product to use for just KH? (although baking soda is pretty cheap!) I don't have access to crushed coral and ordering online would make for hefty shipping fees.
Potassium carbonate or bicarbonate. The former is more effective while the latter is easier to source.
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