Kh/gh, does this seem right? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Kh/gh, does this seem right?

I just got an API GH/KH test kit yesterday (liquid). Instructions are pretty clear that the GH test should turn the water from orange to green. Mine never went orange. First drop started to slightly tint the water green and by the third drop I had water with a definite green tint, though it was light green.

With the KH test, turning from blue to orange, I accidentally added drops 10 and 11 at the same time but those instantly changed the water color.

So I should be between 180-200 ppm on KH. Does it sound right that GH could be under 50 ppm like this...?
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 12:37 AM
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Technically, yes: it's possible. The measures are, essentially, independent of each other.

- What is your water source (softener or RO involved)?
- did you verify that the API kit has not expired?
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Technically, yes: it's possible. The measures are, essentially, independent of each other.

- What is your water source (softener or RO involved)?
- did you verify that the API kit has not expired?
Local water association and owner of our 33,000 acre reservoir is who provides the (treated) water. Nothing but Prime used before it goes into the tank. The API kit is good till 2024 I think. Iím about to test it again tonight to double check results and then test the tap also.

@Deanna

Yesterday was total user error! Being much more cautious about the instructions tonight, i find that I basically have nothing in the tank water for minerals. GH takes 3 drops to really start to see green but at 1 drop the water is starting to shade that direction, definitely no orange. However, the KH test was a total bust yesterday! One drop properly mixed into the tube gets me blue water. So. Nearly no minerals in my water. Is it safe to assume I need to raise the hardness and the KH at least SOME for my fish and (soon) snails?

Tap water shows the same results.

Tap pH is in the 6.8-7.0 range which is consistent. My last water change was probably 4 days ago and the tank pH is up to about 8.0. I donít know what it would get to if left alone, but the tank definitely creeps up from what the tap puts out. So the tank is basic and very soft.

Neon tetra, mollies, platys, a barb and a rasbora, otos, getting snails. Plus several live plants. Very quick research makes it sound like I need to probably lower the pH some but raise the GH some. And maybe the KH too. What say these experts?

Last edited by Darkblade48; 10-02-2019 at 05:31 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 05:38 AM
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Seems to me you donít have any KH to buffer your water. You have a few options with this, do you have a TDS meter pen?

You can use a small amount of baking soda to reach at least 1 dKH and thatís all that should be needed so long as you donít have anything in your tank that eats KH. Or you could look into the buffers that Seachem sells, Acid and Alkaline. Be aware that anything you add in this regard will raise your TDS. If you have low TDS, then it shouldnít be a problem.



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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by varanidguy View Post
Seems to me you don’t have any KH to buffer your water. You have a few options with this, do you have a TDS meter pen?

You can use a small amount of baking soda to reach at least 1 dKH and that’s all that should be needed so long as you don’t have anything in your tank that eats KH. Or you could look into the buffers that Seachem sells, Acid and Alkaline. Be aware that anything you add in this regard will raise your TDS. If you have low TDS, then it shouldn’t be a problem
I don’t have a TDS pen. Is it time to order one?
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 02:04 PM
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I donít have a TDS pen. Is it time to order one?


In your situation, it would be a good idea. Youíll also need some GH booster. I use both Seachem Equilibrium and NilocGís, like them both.


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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 02:37 PM
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Would not recommend the acid/alkaline buffers... can cause more harm than good.

If you aren't using a buffering substrate, then you could easily get a GH/KH remineralizer and get the GH to at least 6-8? Then do small water changes with the new water so as to not stress out the inhabitants. Keep these up every day or every other day until the water reaches the levels you want. If you have a lot of water evaporation, you may need to lower the amount of remineralizer you use for a future water change. If water in tank is at levels you want, then just use water at the desired parameters for water changes.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Alphie View Post
Yesterday was total user error! Being much more cautious about the instructions tonight, i find that I basically have nothing in the tank water for minerals. GH takes 3 drops to really start to see green but at 1 drop the water is starting to shade that direction, definitely no orange. However, the KH test was a total bust yesterday! One drop properly mixed into the tube gets me blue water. So. Nearly no minerals in my water. Is it safe to assume I need to raise the hardness and the KH at least SOME for my fish and (soon) snails?

Tap water shows the same results.

Tap pH is in the 6.8-7.0 range which is consistent. My last water change was probably 4 days ago and the tank pH is up to about 8.0. I don’t know what it would get to if left alone, but the tank definitely creeps up from what the tap puts out. So the tank is basic and very soft.

Neon tetra, mollies, platys, a barb and a rasbora, otos, getting snails. Plus several live plants. Very quick research makes it sound like I need to probably lower the pH some but raise the GH some. And maybe the KH too. What say these experts?
Soft water is certainly very possible. I make my water soft and to test it, I take the API test and dramatically increase it’s sensitivity. You will need a test tube that can hold 25 ml. I take the the 25 ml of tank water and add the GH reagent. Then, divide the number of drops needed to achieve a full color change by 5, and you will get a better reading on low GH levels.

If you have no carbonate hardness (measure by dKH) in your tap, I don’t see how your pH can rise like that if nothing else is going on in your tank. What are you dosing to your tank, what type of substrate do you have and are there any other objects, such as rocks, etc., that may be contributing carbonates?
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Zoidburg View Post
Would not recommend the acid/alkaline buffers... can cause more harm than good.
Why not and how so?


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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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@Deanna,

Miracle Grow unsifted organic potting mix capped with rinsed Lowe’s gravel, planted. I also have a large rock from the flower bed outside, rinsed, that has java moss attached to it. Three small pieces of pine driftwood.

That’s it. Completely low-tech. I have a HOB filter and a Beamswork light but I don’t dose (except Prime at water changes) or inject anything.

With 25 ml of tank water, I got 7-8 drops before the FAINT orange tint turned to FAINT green. Does that give me a dGH of 1.4-1.6 overall?
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Alphie View Post
@Deanna,

Miracle Grow unsifted organic potting mix capped with rinsed Loweís gravel, planted. I also have a large rock from the flower bed outside, rinsed, that has java moss attached to it. Three small pieces of pine driftwood.

Thatís it. Completely low-tech. I have a HOB filter and a Beamswork light but I donít dose (except Prime at water changes) or inject anything.

With 25 ml of tank water, I got 7-8 drops before the FAINT orange tint turned to FAINT green. Does that give me a dGH of 1.4-1.6 overall?
Did you do this for dKH as well? Do you know what the rock is made from?


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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Alphie View Post
@Deanna,

Miracle Grow unsifted organic potting mix capped with rinsed Loweís gravel, planted. I also have a large rock from the flower bed outside, rinsed, that has java moss attached to it. Three small pieces of pine driftwood.

Thatís it. Completely low-tech. I have a HOB filter and a Beamswork light but I donít dose (except Prime at water changes) or inject anything.

With 25 ml of tank water, I got 7-8 drops before the FAINT orange tint turned to FAINT green. Does that give me a dGH of 1.4-1.6 overall?
Don't know what the Miracle Grow, Lowe's gravel or local rock may be contribution, but one, or all, probably are the cause of the high KH. You can test the gravel and the rock. Do a search, here on TPT, for "test rocks" and the procedure will become available to you.

Yes on the "dGH of 1.4-1.6."

Fertilizers are a whole other topic, but you may want to look into it. Start by trying to determine how much of the Miracle Grow is contribution. Between that and the fish food, you may be ok. I just don't know what Miracle Grow supplies and how balanced it is. Perhaps someone else will chime-in that has experience with it.
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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Don't know what the Miracle Grow, Lowe's gravel or local rock may be contribution, but one, or all, probably are the cause of the high KH. You can test the gravel and the rock. Do a search, here on TPT, for "test rocks" and the procedure will become available to you.

Yes on the "dGH of 1.4-1.6."

Fertilizers are a whole other topic, but you may want to look into it. Start by trying to determine how much of the Miracle Grow is contribution. Between that and the fish food, you may be ok. I just don't know what Miracle Grow supplies and how balanced it is. Perhaps someone else will chime-in that has experience with it.
I think we miscommunicated somewhere. dKH is practically 0 as well. Both dGH and dKH are very very low. pH is the only thing that’s up, at about 8.0 before water change.
@varanidguy, I only tested dGH with that method but I’m about to check the dKH that way too.
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Sooooo..... at the recommendation from a member I put about half a tsp of baking soda into the water I was adding for a near-50% water change (25g tank with a heavy substrate, probably 20-22g water column). I went from maybe 1 dKH to a full 10. Yesterday testing dKH, I put one drop in 5ml of water, inverted the tube, and it instantly went yellow. Today, I started with the 25ml method and backed up the result with the 5ml method. 50-52 drops into the 25ml solution, 10 drops into the 5ml solution. pH is still around 8, which I assume is a factor of the large water change with neutral-pH water combined with raising KH.

Big question: is such a drastic change in KH a problem for the fishes considering temp, pH, and other parameters should still be the same? Should I retest GH post-water-change?
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 11:07 PM
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I think we miscommunicated somewhere. dKH is practically 0 as well. Both dGH and dKH are very very low. pH is the only thing thatís up, at about 8.0 before water change.
@varanidguy, I only tested dGH with that method but Iím about to check the dKH that way too.
OK. I'm with you now. Still, seems odd that pH would be that high with no measurable buffer. something is wrong there.
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