Cannot get GH to stay above 0 - Aquasoil, GLA GH boost - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Cannot get GH to stay above 0 - Aquasoil, GLA GH boost

Newish tank (22 gallon using RO), been up for about a month with fish. Completely cycled and aquasoil is done slamming the water column with ammonia. All parameters are in normal range except GH, and TDS is slightly high around 350-400 but I'll get to that below.
  1. Nitrate - 10-20
  2. Phosphate - 0 - 1
  3. KH - 4
  4. PH 7.2 which drops down to 6.2 with CO2 on
  5. Temperature - 78



GH reads 0 and api calcium test also essentially reads 0. I put 4-8 tsps of Green Leaf aquarium's GH boost after every water change (typically 33% change). It will still be 0 the next day. This dosage is about 2-4 times over the recommended requirement and rotala reinforces this so I'm left scratching my head. I then realized because this has potassium and sulfate in it too that it may be unnecessarily increasing my TDS as well, since it stays high above 300 even after water changes. Of note is that I remember my TDS being high even before fish (and waste) entered the equation.



Fish are fine, all shrimp I've put in have died (dripped for 6+ hours with the tank water making 75% of the total dripped water). Super bummed about this and want to try and figure GH and TDS out before I try to put more in. My last tank had seiryu stone and there was always an over abundance of GH.


Three questions:
  1. Any idea why my GH will not go above 0?
  2. What are people buying for GH? I already have magnesium sulfate for Mg but nothing for CA. I want to get GLA GH boost out of the equation.
  3. Am I missing anything else here? I doubt it but am open to ideas.



Edit:

Conclusion - Aquasoil will suck up GH and reduce it to zero. Yellow water is a clear sign of this. Zero GH will also likely cause shrimp to day within a few days of putting them in the tank. My wife says her GH eventually stopped dropping a couple of months in with her tank which had aquasoil. Her tank was also yellow at first and we didn't know why.

Last edited by Ddrizzle; 09-01-2019 at 08:23 PM. Reason: qwewqe
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 08:58 PM
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Big bag of crushed coral in filter?

Obviously soil is probably sucking it up. Also what did you use to build high areas, know you mentioned power sand at one time but thought it was already a mineralized substrate.

Could all that lava rock be sucking up minerals?
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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No idea what it is but my guess was aquasoil sucking it up or maybe something to do with the lava rock.

Because I had seiryu stone from the get-go with the aquasoil last time I don't have a basis to go off of.

Actually my wife just said she had issues keeping her gh up for a few months and she has aquasoil without seiyru stone. Maybe it is the aquasoil sucking it up.

As for building it up, I didnt get much higher than 5 or so inches. In those areas I stacked up more power sand. I ran out and finished the hills off with some leftover eco complete. This left about two inches of aquasoil on top.

Also, so what are people using to dose calcium and magnesium specifically, outside of generic gh boosters?

Last edited by Darkblade48; 09-01-2019 at 04:35 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
Also, so what are people using to dose calcium and magnesium specifically, outside of generic gh boosters?
Magnesium Sulfate ( MgSO4)
Potassium Sulfate ( K2so4)
Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4)

or you just buy NilocG GH booster.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Magnesium Sulfate ( MgSO4)
Potassium Sulfate ( K2so4)
Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4)

or you just buy NilocG GH booster.

Question - Why would people use potassium sulfate? I thought GH was just CA/Mg. Guess I have some reading to do.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
Am I missing anything else here? I doubt it but am open to ideas.
The most and best aquariums are for example in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. They use mostly ADA substrates and have very soft tap water. Below are their tap water parameters:

Tokyo
Alkalinity 13 – 61 mg / L, 0.7 – 3.4 dKH
Total hardness 47 – 83 mg / L
Ca hardness 41 – 60 mg / L, 16 – 24 ppm Ca, 2.2 – 3.4 dGH
Mg hardness 6 – 23 mg / L, 1 – 5 ppm Mg, 0.2 – 1.1 dGH

Hong Kong
Alkalinity 7 - 78 mg / L, 0.4 – 4.4 dKH
Total hardness 4 – 64 mg / L
Ca hardness 2 – 53 mg / L, 0.9 – 21 ppm Ca, 0.1 – 2.9 dGH
Mg hardness 2 – 11 mg / L , 0.4 – 2.8 ppm Mg, 0.1 – 0.6 dGH

Singapore
Alkalinity 6 – 40 mg / L, 0.3 – 2.2 dKH
Total hardness 27 – 221 mg / L

Also, they most likely follow the ADA water change instructions which I think is 30% weekly after initial break-in period due to leaching NH4. And I don’t believe they do much testing of GH, KH, Ca or Mg. They only watch for NH4, NO3 and PO4 to see if there is needed an extra water change.

Below is data I have collected from few ADA magazines where we can see actual aquarium water parameters. The data is from 31 Takashi Amano’s aquariums:

TH Total hardness:
8 with 50 ppm, 2.8 dGH
1 with 30 ppm, 1.7 dGH
18 with 20 ppm, 1.1 dGH
4 with 10 ppm, 0.56 dGH

pH:
7 with 6.6
1 with 6.4
3 with 6.0

“What constantly fascinates us is the water quality of natural springs. When our field research unit conducted a comparative water quality testing three of the world’s largest rainforest, where majority of the aquatic plants and tropical fishes originated, we discover the water to be rather acidic and extremely poor in dissolved salts. The pH values for the constant varies between pH 5 to 6, with TH averaged below 20mg/litre.” (ADA Aqua Journal, Vol.36, pg.28), 20 mg / litre = 1.1 dGH

“When CO2 is injected into the water, its pH will be lowered approximately to the range of 6.6 – 6.8. If your aquarium is a newly setup tank using Aqua Soil as the base substrate, the pH will decline further to 5.0 – 5.5 or even lower. There is no cause for alarm as this is only temporary.
After a period of time (about a month’s time), when the substrate is leached by regular water change, the pH will gradually rise back up 6.6 and remains constant thereafter. “
(ADA Aqua Journal, Vol. 38, pg.29)

Notice that there is no mentioning of any KH values. ADA doesn’t even have a KH test kit. The KH and pH buffering is controlled by the substrate. When minerals are adsorbed by the substrate they are not locked up, they are going to be released when needed.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward View Post
The most and best aquariums are for example in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. They use mostly ADA substrates and have very soft tap water. Below are their tap water parameters:



Tokyo

Alkalinity 13 – 61 mg / L, 0.7 – 3.4 dKH

Total hardness 47 – 83 mg / L

Ca hardness 41 – 60 mg / L, 16 – 24 ppm Ca, 2.2 – 3.4 dGH

Mg hardness 6 – 23 mg / L, 1 – 5 ppm Mg, 0.2 – 1.1 dGH



Hong Kong

Alkalinity 7 - 78 mg / L, 0.4 – 4.4 dKH

Total hardness 4 – 64 mg / L

Ca hardness 2 – 53 mg / L, 0.9 – 21 ppm Ca, 0.1 – 2.9 dGH

Mg hardness 2 – 11 mg / L , 0.4 – 2.8 ppm Mg, 0.1 – 0.6 dGH



Singapore

Alkalinity 6 – 40 mg / L, 0.3 – 2.2 dKH

Total hardness 27 – 221 mg / L



Also, they most likely follow the ADA water change instructions which I think is 30% weekly after initial break-in period due to leaching NH4. And I don’t believe they do much testing of GH, KH, Ca or Mg. They only watch for NH4, NO3 and PO4 to see if there is needed an extra water change.



Below is data I have collected from few ADA magazines where we can see actual aquarium water parameters. The data is from 31 Takashi Amano’s aquariums:



TH Total hardness:

8 with 50 ppm, 2.8 dGH

1 with 30 ppm, 1.7 dGH

18 with 20 ppm, 1.1 dGH

4 with 10 ppm, 0.56 dGH



pH:

7 with 6.6

1 with 6.4

3 with 6.0



“What constantly fascinates us is the water quality of natural springs. When our field research unit conducted a comparative water quality testing three of the world’s largest rainforest, where majority of the aquatic plants and tropical fishes originated, we discover the water to be rather acidic and extremely poor in dissolved salts. The pH values for the constant varies between pH 5 to 6, with TH averaged below 20mg/litre.” (ADA Aqua Journal, Vol.36, pg.28), 20 mg / litre = 1.1 dGH



“When CO2 is injected into the water, its pH will be lowered approximately to the range of 6.6 – 6.8. If your aquarium is a newly setup tank using Aqua Soil as the base substrate, the pH will decline further to 5.0 – 5.5 or even lower. There is no cause for alarm as this is only temporary.

After a period of time (about a month’s time), when the substrate is leached by regular water change, the pH will gradually rise back up 6.6 and remains constant thereafter. “
(ADA Aqua Journal, Vol. 38, pg.29)



Notice that there is no mentioning of any KH values. ADA doesn’t even have a KH test kit. The KH and pH buffering is controlled by the substrate. When minerals are adsorbed by the substrate they are not locked up, they are going to be released when needed.


Very interesting indeed. My tap is close to Tokyo’s in terms of hardness (about 4 dKH and 5 dGH), however I was to believe that any KH in the tap would render the soil useless in a short period, and the KH fluctuations from doing water changes would be potentially detrimental to livestock, even lethal to more sensitive types like shrimp. What is your take on that?


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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Just FYI I'm talking GH issues not KH. I do have to work extra hard to keep my Ph around 7.0-7.2 by putting in potassium bicarbonate every other day or so. I have a Ph pen so this isn't super hard. When it drops to 6.8 or 6.9 I put more potassium bicarbonate in.

New finding for GH - I dumped an extra amount in to get it up to 2-3 GH last night. It has stayed around 2 gh for now. Suddenly the water is not yellow anymore from the "humic acid" (as stated on ADA's page).

Conclusion - Aquasoil will suck up GH and reduce it to zero. Yellow water is a clear sign of this. Zero GH will also likely cause shrimp to day within a few days of putting them in the tank. My wife says her GH eventually stopped dropping a couple of months in with her tank which had aquasoil. Her tank was also yellow at first and we didn't know why.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
Just FYI I'm talking GH issues not KH. I do have to work extra hard to keep my Ph around 7.0-7.2 by putting in potassium bicarbonate every other day or so. I have a Ph pen so this isn't super hard. When it drops to 6.8 or 6.9 I put more potassium bicarbonate in.



New finding for GH - I dumped an extra amount in to get it up to 2-3 GH last night. It has stayed around 2 gh for now. Suddenly the water is not yellow anymore from the "humic acid" (as stated on ADA's page).



Conclusion - Aquasoil will suck up GH and reduce it to zero. Yellow water is a clear sign of this. Zero GH will also likely cause shrimp to day within a few days of putting them in the tank. My wife says her GH eventually stopped dropping a couple of months in with her tank which had aquasoil. Her tank was also yellow at first and we didn't know why.


My apologies. Yeah the aquasoil has a high CEC so it’s gonna suck up a bunch of stuff from the water. People do like it for the buffering though (reduction in bicarbonate), you may fight it for a while if you don’t want it to bring that value down.


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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My apologies. Yeah the aquasoil has a high CEC so it’s gonna suck up a bunch of stuff from the water. People do like it for the buffering though (reduction in bicarbonate), you may fight it for a while if you don’t want it to bring that value down.


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I'm learning more about active substrate with every tank... this time it was GH heh. The marker for no GH with aquasoil is striking though - yellow tinted water. Hopefully this helps other people. No wonder I never saw yellow water in my first tank with seiryu stone... those little beasts leeched GH like nobody's business.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 09:36 PM
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The substrate is soil and peat based so it will be reducing Ca, Mg, K and other cations and also reducing alkalinity making water more acidic. However it can do so only until exhausted and that is when the substrate becomes useless according to ADA or just ordinary mud.

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Originally Posted by Edward View Post
TH Evaluation (Total Hardness CaCO3)
< 50 ppm (2.8 dGH)
Acceptable limits (Favorable water conditions for most aquatic plants.)

50 - 100 ppm (2.8 – 5.6 dGH)
Hardness is mildly high. Terminal buds of stemmed plants such as Hemianthus Micranthemoides and Glossostigma will turn white, leaves will grow smaller and the growth of plants will be disrupted.

>100 ppm (5.6 dGH)
Hardness is abnormally high.
As you can see above, ADA considers GH lower than 2.8 degrees favorable, it is less than 20 ppm Ca. Anything higher can cause problems.

I don’t know about some sensitive types of shrimps, but 30% water changes shouldn’t bother fish and usual shrimps, I am sure people in Japan have shrimps with ADA substrate. Maybe I would be monitoring TDS before and after water change to see how large the difference is.

Ddrizzle
How do you test zero Ca with a test kit?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
Just FYI I'm talking GH issues not KH. I do have to work extra hard to keep my Ph around 7.0-7.2 by putting in potassium bicarbonate every other day or so. I have a Ph pen so this isn't super hard. When it drops to 6.8 or 6.9 I put more potassium bicarbonate in.
You are talking about KH because pH is dependent on KH. And why are you chasing so high pH? Did you test TDS difference before you put the shrimps in?
Quote:
Zero GH will also likely cause shrimp to day within a few days of putting them in the tank.
Most likely the TDS fluctuations provided by your corrective actions.


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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varanidguy
The substrate is soil and peat based so it will be reducing Ca, Mg, K and other cations and also reducing alkalinity making water more acidic. However it can do so only until exhausted and that is when the substrate becomes useless according to ADA or just ordinary mud.



As you can see above, ADA considers GH lower than 2.8 degrees favorable, it is less than 20 ppm Ca. Anything higher can cause problems.

I don’t know about some sensitive types of shrimps, but 30% water changes shouldn’t bother fish and usual shrimps, I am sure people in Japan have shrimps with ADA substrate. Maybe I would be monitoring TDS before and after water change to see how large the difference is.

Ddrizzle
How do you test zero Ca with a test kit?

You are talking about KH because pH is dependent on KH. And why are you chasing so high pH? Did you test TDS difference before you put the shrimps in? Most likely the TDS fluctuations provided by your corrective actions.

High ph - I suppose a 7.0 ph is irrelevant. I thought if I went from 7.0~ down to 6.0~ that the fish wouldn't stress as much as 6.0 down to 5.0. I think these are irrelevant thought. At 6.0~ ph due to co2, my gouramis are breathing from the surface every once in a while (it's a feature of their species).



Shrimps - The only thing I didn't test before swapping was TDS. I tested GH and KH though which I thought would be enough. Looking back, my GH was actually probably zero or getting there sooner than I realize.


Calcium -
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 10:45 PM
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I forget, what the story with your tap water that you have to use RO? Also I've never had GH issues with AS and my tap is KH=2 GH=4.


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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 11:13 PM
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If you are planning to use a pH / KH / CO2 controller to have 1 pH drop then I have bad news, it doesn’t work with ADA substrates. The reason is these are not CO2 controllers, but pH controllers. And since ADA substrates are playing with KH then pH is all over the place. What you need is either a gas flow meter or set bubble count to fit your setup. If this is for the 22 gallon aquarium then the bubble counter is the only option. ADA is also using bubble counters and never controllers.

You trying to increase pH by adding KH before adding CO2 is too early because we don’t know how the substrate will buffer the pH. The substrate will not only push pH down but also up. It is not acidifier, it is a buffer.

For the Ca kit, if you use
20 ml then you can see Ca less than 05 ppm, 0.7 dGH
10 ml then you can see Ca less than 10 ppm, 1.4 dGH
05 ml then you can see Ca less than 20 ppm, 2.8 dGH

Not zero.


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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I forget, what the story with your tap water that you have to use RO? Also I've never had GH issues with AS and my tap is KH=2 GH=4.
There's no issues, I just have a shop down the road and like to use RO. I did start with tap a while ago and got a lot of brown algae which I assume was from high silicates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward View Post
Ddrizzle
If you are planning to use a pH / KH / CO2 controller to have 1 pH drop then I have bad news, it doesn’t work with ADA substrates. The reason is these are not CO2 controllers, but pH controllers. And since ADA substrates are playing with KH then pH is all over the place. What you need is either a gas flow meter or set bubble count to fit your setup. If this is for the 22 gallon aquarium then the bubble counter is the only option. ADA is also using bubble counters and never controllers.

You trying to increase pH by adding KH before adding CO2 is too early because we don’t know how the substrate will buffer the pH. The substrate will not only push pH down but also up. It is not acidifier, it is a buffer.

For the Ca kit, if you use
20 ml then you can see Ca less than 05 ppm, 0.7 dGH
10 ml then you can see Ca less than 10 ppm, 1.4 dGH
05 ml then you can see Ca less than 20 ppm, 2.8 dGH

Not zero.
Thanks for the concern here. I understand the relationship between ph, kh and the constant softening. I check my ph every morning to see how much it drops and add the necessary kh back. Currently, it typically sucks out enough kh for a 0.1 drop in ph. To your point, I am using a bubble counter. I dont use the ph pen for controlling anything.

If it was more, like 0.3 ph difference or higher I'd be more concerned. So far so good. Also I forgot to mention I add kh to keep it around 3 or so.

As for ca/gh that's why I said essentially zero. It's too low either way.
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