GH an KH - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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GH an KH

Looking for advice on water hardness. I have a KH of 53ppm and GH pf 161ppm. My plants and fish are great, Should I be concerned about the GH level?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 12:03 AM
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If you are SURE that your fish and plants are great, then do nothing. Best not to "fix" something that is not broken. However, fish and plants cannot talk to us, so, I suggest that you let us all know what type of fish and plants you have. There are some really great people on here that can help you out with the experience and knowledge that they have. Also, welcome to TPT.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 12:42 AM
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Welcome to the forums!
GH is less of a concern in most cases than KH, generally speaking. When I joined this message board, I had a planted 125 with all Lake Tanganyika fish and snails with a pH and hardness off the charts and most plants grew well. Even plants from southeast Asia and the Amazon tributaries that are adapted to quite soft water. A few plants never did well, but the majority did as well (and Anubias remarkably better) as they did in my soft water tanks. It was CO2 injected and high light, but I have no doubts the same plants would have grown (much more slowly) in a low-tech traditional setup.

Is your water hard and alkaline out of the tap, or is there anything in the tank raising those values? Many substrates and rock decor contain calcium carbonate and will literally raise these values until they have dissolved to sand. If you keep fish, inverts or plants that prefer things on the softer side sometimes just removing a simple rock can correct the problem. We're happy to look at pictures and your tap vs tank results and try to help. It's a good idea to test these in your tap right out of the faucet, and then again on the same tap water that has sat out in an open container for 24 hours.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 05:42 AM
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Adding to this, I live in NYC with fairly soft water. How would you recommend raising and keeping a stable KH?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasJ22 View Post
Adding to this, I live in NYC with fairly soft water. How would you recommend raising and keeping a stable KH?
GH of 161ppm (9 dGH) is not soft water. However, both your KH and GH should be ok for the majority of community-type tropical fish. If you are happy, do as @Turningdizzy suggested and leave well-enough alone. I would compare tap to tank water, as @Blue Ridge Reef mentioned, to make sure nothing in your tank is unwittingly causing changes. What do you normally dose (how often and how much)?

Addressing your specific question about KH: raising it is easy with baking soda or other bicarbonate salts, but I don't think you need to do it. Your current level is fine. Is it not stable? What type of substrate do you have?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 03:45 PM
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I have done test for both tap water and tank water and both measure 0ppm for KH and GH with two different API kits. I dose easy green from aquarium co op but only started about a month ago and the parameters have been the same. With also a stable ph of 6 (which I’d like to gradually get to 7 to 7.5 and remain stable there). Plants are doing just okay and fish are good but I’m trying to get the balance between the two.

I dose for low light, 2 pumps once a week
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 04:19 PM
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Although it's hard to believe there is no Ca or Mg in your tap (is there a water softener in your building/home?), it does seem clear that something in your tank is significantly adding Ca, Mg and carbonates. Follow @Blue Ridge Reef's advice on how to identify the culprit(s) and be sure to let us know what your substrate is.

The Easy Green does have some Mg in it, but you say that it made no difference in GH levels before and after, so it's coming from something in your tank.

If you have a KH level of 3 dKH and a pH of 6.0, the two don't match unless you have are injecting a lot of CO2. A 3 dKH, with no CO2 injection, should have pH in the 7.5 area.

The API GH/KH test kits expire. Have you checked the expiration? Also, this may seem ridiculous, but can you tell us how many drops of each are required to turn the test water color?
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 05:30 PM
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I got some root tabs in with inert gravel. About two weeks ago I put some shell in the filter to break down some elements and put them into the water, but I don’t think that has changed the parameters much or at all and the other only thing I can think of is that on this tank I field collected rocks from my families beach in Long Island but I tested each one if it was okay and only put the ok ones in the tank.

No c02, temp is ab 76į, all white low light and lightly planted.

This tank I was gonna reatablish in a couple of weeks and put dirt on the bottom with the gravel cap back on. Would it be ideal to add some crushed coral to the gravel or in filter.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 05:49 PM
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The root tabs could be contributing (you'd have to look at the ingredients). The shell and, maybe (depending upon how you tested), rocks are probably the contributors. If you are sure about your testing of KH and GH (KH still doesn't match up with pH reading), try removing them from the tank, do some water changes (50%) to bring KH and GH down by half, then watch for a week to see if they climb. If not, put everything back in and see what happens in another week.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 06:56 PM
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They can be contributing to a low KH? Wouldn’t those things raise it if they are affecting the water at all?
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ThomasJ22 View Post
They can be contributing to a low KH? Wouldn’t those things raise it if they are affecting the water at all?
You are correct. However, I thought you were trying to determine what is causing the KH (and GH) to rise. In order to identify those, you will have to go through a process of elimination. The shells are likely the KH component, but may not be all of it.

If it were me, I'd pull them all out (not the substrate), get the GH and KH levels down to half, or less, then wait a week to see if anything changes. If no changes, then add all the rocks back in and wait a week. If no changes, then add the shells (if that is what you want to use to raise KH), then wait a week. If you get any changes at any point, then determine what is the thing that is causing those changes.

If you want to test the rocks, individually, when they are out of the tank: put each rock into a different bowl of tap water, then add some lemon juice to make it acidic. Test the water and then test again after a few days to see if GH, KH and pH change.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 07:09 PM
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Alright cool. Thanks for the feedback !
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