Remineralisers compared (GH vs KH vs TDS) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Question Remineralisers compared (GH vs KH vs TDS)

Dear All,

I've been using Equilibrium for a long time in my planted tank, but recently realised that it perhaps isn't the best thing to use in my new nano shrimp tank due to the high TDS it gives (all good stuff for a planted tank, but perhaps just too much stuff in there for shrimp). The tap water here in Singapore is quite soft (3-4 dGH and 1-2 dKH) with a TDS of ~ 140, so I would prefer to just boost the GH and KH a little, rather than having the expense of using RO. Hence knowing the corresponding increases in KH and TDS for each remineralising product is quite important!

So looking for alternatives and found NeoTiger GH+/KH+ in my LFS which looked ideal, but just doesn't seem to work as it should (see this thread). For shrimp, SaltyShrimp products seem most people's minerals of choice, so just waiting for my Bee Shrimp Minerals to arrive from the US...

But in looking for alternatives, it seemed that there was very little info available regarding what TDS each product gives for a certain GH. Only SaltyShrimp seem to give this info freely, Seachem support bizarrely say they have no TDS data available for Equilibrium, Replenish or the Aquavitro products. Even the GH / KH ratio isn't always obvious.

So wondering if the collective brain of this forum might help to compile a comparison list to make it clear what increase in KH and TDS might be expected for a 1 dGH increase in hardness?

Here's what I have so far. The results in black are my own measurements, those in light grey are manufacturers figures. Could you help fill in the blanks please?



The figures show have all been corrected to show:
- the amount of product that needs to be added to 10l of water to increase the dGH by one unit (+1 dGH)
- the corresponding increase in KH and TDS per +1 dGH increase in hardness.

Interesting to see how the TDS figures compare: Seems SaltyShrimp Sulawesi 8.5 minerals are the "cleanest" at about 16ppm TDS per +1dGH / +0.78gKH, but I thought 1dh ~ 18ppm TDS so how is this possible? Equilibrium seems the "dirtiest" in terms of adding 38ppm TDS per 1dGH hardness. Note that clean / dirty does not mean good / bad, just crude terminology which hopefully helps explain differences between products.

You can then multiply up the figures to determine the amount of product to add for your required GH, and the corresponding KH and TDS levels that will result (i.e. multiply the KH and TDS figures by how many dGH you require to get the actual KH and TDS you will obtain).

If you can help fill in the blanks (including adding other products), can you please post:
1) Product brand and name
2) How much of the product (grams or ml) you added and to how much water
3) The starting GH, KH and TDS of the water (if not using distilled / RO and they weren't zero)
4) The resulting GH, KH and TDS measurements

I'll then add this to my spreadsheet, calculate the necessary figures, then update the table above.

Does that make sense? Hopefully others might find this data useful too?

Kind regards, James
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 02:01 PM
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First, are you aware that the components of GH have virtually no bearing on KH and vice versa? So, if the products you mention have no bicarbonates in them, then KH will not be affected. This is the case with, at least, Equilibrium and aqua vitro Mineralize.

I you want to raise KH, you need to add bicarbonates, such as KHCO3, K2CO3, NaHCO3 (baking soda) and many other options (basically, products with “CO3” in them). If that is not in the product of interest, then KH will not be increased.

If you want to raise GH, then you are only going to add calcium and magnesium and many of us believe it important to maintain a Ca:Mg ratio between 2:1 and 4:1. Many of us also add these through different types of salts, such as MgSO4 and CaSO4. The all-in-one products often contain other additives that generally do not affect GH, such as potassium. Of the products you mentioned, I believe that only the aqua vitro targets just Mg and Ca, although I’ve never looked at the components in the Salty Shrimp line.

I would not want to provide TDS numbers because TDS measurements are highly variable and dependent upon what scale your TDS meter is, calibration issues and other variables such as temperature, probe positioning, lingering electrical charges, etc. TDS meters, used in our hobby are generally only useful for broad readings and relative to our own previous readings with our meters.

If you want to know what actual TDS readings are for a product, you can use website calculators to calculate what the actual components in one of those products would yield in true ppm. One such site is this: https://www.lenntech.com/calculators...-ec_engels.htm Of course, this means that the manufacturers needs to supply ingredient information (aqua vitro is secretive on this).

However, you would then need to calibrate and/or adjust your readings to try to reach the summed TDS that this calculator generates to know the approximately true ppm reading in your situation. If you are trying to determine an amount to dose to affect KH and GH, it would be better to focus on testing those as accurately as possible.

Am I missing the intent of your posting?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @Deanna, thanks for your reply.

Here was my thinking: I see now that some products increase only GH, some only KH, and some increase both GH and KH (in various ratios). This wasn't obvious to me at first and I personally would have found some sort of comparison table (similar to what I was proposing above) useful in helping to understand the available products and which is right for my tank / water (I'm trying to boost my soft tap water, so that may need a different ratio of GH vs KH addition than if I was starting from RO water, as most products seem to assume, and for the shrimp I want a lower TDS).

I guess the point of my post comes from a) the lack of info from most manufacturers regarding what is in a given product, b) my recent experience with the actual results from the Brightwell Aquatics shrimp remineraliser being way off the claims on the bottle, and c) a desire to understand what is going on with my water.

I have no interest in making up my own remineraliser from scratch; my tanks are small enough that I don't need much so cost savings are not an issue. Plus I am happy to leave correct formulation to the experts in the respective companies to determine. Off-the-shelf is just fine, for now at least. That said, I struggle to understand what differentiates one product from another. Whats makes this one for shrimp, this one for planted, etc. I get that some have extras included beyond the basic GH/KH boost to target the specific application, but it's hard to understand what or how much extra stuff is in there.

Just starting out with my first shrimp only tank and realising that what worked for my planted tank doesn't work for my shrimp tank - Equilibrium gives a too high TDS. So, my thinking with comparing TDS values between products was that it would give some indication of how much other stuff is being added to the water as well as the basic GH+/KH+, and therefore whether I have any chance of getting within my target TDS range using them. I get your point though about (in)accuracy of TDS meters. Guess the only true test would be to for all to be measured using a single meter so that the numbers are at least comparable, if not strictly accurate. Are TDS meters really that variable?

Where I noted a KH increase per +1dGH value of <0.14 for Equilibrium and <0.33 for the NeoTiger in the above table, this was based on only being able to measure that the KH after remineralisation to 7dGH and 3dGH respectively was less than one (hence KH/GH ratios less than 1/7 = <0.14 and 1/3 = <0.33). I assumed the KH ratio for Equilibrium is actually near zero, but I could only measure that the increase was <1 with +7dGH. However for the Brightwell Aquatics product, the bottle says the GH:KH increase ratio should be 1:0.57, but my bottle at least barely seems to touch the KH at all for some reason.

But maybe I'm over thinking this....
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 03:53 PM
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What are you using to measure kh?

Equilibrium has nothing in it that affects kh.

If low TDs is your goal, you should stop worrying about Kh. You have plenty. Raising it will only make it difficult, TDS wise.

If you really want to stick with a commercial product, find one that only has Ca:Mg in it. That way you can maximize your Gh boost while keeping TDS as low as possible.

Of course, due to lack of info or extraneous chemicals in commercial products, using dry chemicals would actually be the easy route here, lol!

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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What are you using to measure kh?
API liquid drops tester, hence all I know is colour already changed at 1 drop, hence assuming <1 dGH.

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Originally Posted by pauld738 View Post
If you really want to stick with a commercial product, find one that only has Ca:Mg in it.
Understood, but product info generally so vague that how would I know? Hence my interest in TDS as a way to tell how much other stuff is in there.

I'm waiting on delivery of SS Bee Shrimp Mineral GH+, but supplies in Singapore have run out and only just able to get shipment from US. This should only increase GH (not KH) and has relatively low TDS I think (according to manufacturers product info), so hoping this will do the job for boosting my tap water. I'm don't want to increase KH as I have Amazonia soil to do the buffering, so current low tap water KH is fine.

Thanks All
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by en7jos View Post
API liquid drops tester, hence all I know is colour already changed at 1 drop, hence assuming <1 dGH.
Yeah, with that test kit you really have no idea what the Kh is doing around 1 dKh. And only a broad sense above that.

Hope it doesn't take too long to get in the Salty Shrimp.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 06:00 PM
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I know a little about shrimp (enough to keep them apparently healthy), but there are more experienced shrimpers(?) here on TPT. You might want to post in the shrimp section with specific questions, but you could also search TPT with something like “shrimp water parameters” and get a good picture of what and how to dose for shrimp. As I recall, KH is only important regarding ensuring that pH is optimal for molting. For GH, NilocG’s Regen and aqua vitro are the only Mg/Ca ONLY all-in-one options of which I am aware.

The best approach, for you, might be to, first, determine the ideal Salty Shrimp product to use and then determine the minimum additional nutrients needed for your plants, which will be a function of things such as light and CO2.

My guess is that any of the Salty Shrimp products will be fine, for plants, regarding GH and KH. Then it will be necessary to determine which, if any, macro and micro nutrients need to be supplemented for plant purposes. You may need to dose, at least, two different products to cover both arenas, if the Salty Shrimp doesn’t cover a nutrient. For example; if Salty Shrimp has no potassium, then you’ll need to add it for your plants. Consider looking at Seachem, Tropica and NilocG websites to help you fill those plant needs.

I would also suggest that your tap water might have just about everything needed for plants, maybe shrimp too. If you don’t have pressurized CO2, you may need only a little potassium and iron for your plants. Get a nitrate and phosphate test kit to measure those to make certain you have enough for your plants.

Regarding TDS, yes; TDS meters vary widely but, if calibration is regularly performed, will give useful information from your own readings when used as reference points. I have a 500 scale TDS meter, which are common in NA, and my reading is in the 120 area, but that means that my true ppm is somewhere in the 170 area.

Incidentally, both the KH and GH test kits can be adapted for better accuracy, particularly below the 1 degree area. Just use 25 ml of test water, instead of the 5ml recommended, then count the drops as usual and divide the results by 5.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post

Incidentally, both the KH and GH test kits can be adapted for better accuracy, particularly below the 1 degree area. Just use 25 ml of test water, instead of the 5ml recommended, then count the drops as usual and divide the results by 5.
I've started doing this myself for my 0 dKH tanks. Thought I'd add that doing this diluted test in something stark white, such as a cool whip container will make the subtle colors easier to see.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 08:26 PM
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I've started doing this myself for my 0 dKH tanks. Thought I'd add that doing this diluted test in something stark white, such as a cool whip container will make the subtle colors easier to see.
That is an issue with faint colors or questionable transitioning of colors in many tests. I use a 165 brightness 8x11 paper from my printer for the background of my vials. You may also find that northern light is best for discerning colors (old artist trick).
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-15-2020, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up

Thanks @Deanna and @Blue Reef Ridge, some really useful pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Incidentally, both the KH and GH test kits can be adapted for better accuracy, particularly below the 1 degree area. Just use 25 ml of test water, instead of the 5ml recommended, then count the drops as usual and divide the results by 5.
I'll give that a try; interested to see how easy it is to determine when the colour changes as hard enough to see in 5ml sometimes! I've heard of using 10ml to get a reading to 0.5dKH before, but not using 25ml. I guess looking down through a tall, thin container will maximise the colour tint....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
My guess is that any of the Salty Shrimp products will be fine, for plants, regarding GH and KH. Then it will be necessary to determine which, if any, macro and micro nutrients need to be supplemented for plant purposes. You may need to dose, at least, two different products to cover both arenas, if the Salty Shrimp doesn’t cover a nutrient. For example; if Salty Shrimp has no potassium, then you’ll need to add it for your plants.
Thanks. I already dose my little shrimp tank with the Seachem Fluorish line (everything except Advance, half dose Excel) at the suggested weekly schedule, mainly because it's there for planted tank and as easy to do both tanks at same time. Only plants with the shrimp are Christmas moss and salvinia (sp?) floating. Didn't bother with fert's at all at first (and no CO2 except Excel), but then salvinia started looking less green so figured it was lacking something. I test weekly with API liquid tests and never get a phosphate reading despite adding 2x / week as per Seachem's dosing, but I know test kit not good at low end. Nitrate results only ever slightly darker than 0ppm, but always much much lighter than 5ppm. So I think plants get everything they need, but probably not in abundance.

Hopefully SS minerals will arrive in a week or two (1 mnth shipping from US!) and will do some research as to what might be lacking for plants compared to Equilibrium.

Thanks all for your input and guidance
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-09-2020, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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OK, so my saltyshrimp GH+ minerals finally arrived from the US. As expected, the TDS for my given 7 dGH is much much less. So now to start changing the shrimp tank from soft tap water reminerslised with Equilibrium (high TDS ) to distilled water remineralised with SS GH+ (lower TDS).

Which leads me to ask if there is a recommended / safe rate at which to lower TDS in a neo shrimp tank?

The GH will be the same.
The KH of the w/c water will go from 3-4 dKH to zero, but the tank KH is already very low (2 dKH) due to Amazonia soil.
The TDS will hopefully be dropped from about 340ppm to about 170 ppm (take that as relative as unsure of meter calibration).

Any advice please? Thanks.


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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-09-2020, 08:30 AM
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Best practice as with all sensitive fauna is a bunch of small water changes (10% 2x a week?), doing slow refills. Maybe mix GH a little on shy side till you get close to target. And by all means let water set and stabilize for at least 10hrs before use, you canít mix stable water in 10-15minutes right out of RO.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-09-2020, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks @DaveKS, will follow your advice and take it slow. So tempting to do a big water change and get to target quickly, but don't want to upset this tank as it's currently doing pretty damn well! Note with regards to giving water chance to stabilise; will make up the day before ready.

I do 20% water changes because it's such a small tank at about 10 litres of water, so my 2 litre jug is full before I've had chance to spit out the water from starting the siphon! I thinking that's probably ok though as long as the w/c water isn't so different to that in the tank, right?

Many thanks, James

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-09-2020, 10:37 PM
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As part of the guide to gradual water changes, I try not to change TDS more than 10% or 50ppm, whichever is less, in any day.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-10-2020, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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As part of the guide to gradual water changes, I try not to change TDS more than 10% or 50ppm, whichever is less, in any day.
Thanks @Deanna, that's a useful guide.
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