Raising KH with crushed coral - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-20-2020, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Raising KH with crushed coral

Hello:

Is there a rough guideline as to how much crushed coral is needed to slowly raise the kh. Looking to raise the kh by 2 dkh in a 10 gal nano tank. Couple tablespoons?, and how long does it generally take to raise the kh, I assume weeks?

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 08:24 PM
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It depends on the pH of your water. Below 7, it could take several weeks or months. Above 7, it would be painfully slow, if at all.

It is faster and more precise to add a measured amount of a soluble kh booster, like sodium bicarbonate.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, yes think that is better, probably only need a pinch of baking soda to raise 1 dkh in a 25 litre tank

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 12:38 AM
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If I may ask, why are you needing to raise it? If your tap water is at 1 dKH or higher there's rarely a reason unless keeping harder water fauna. From a planted tank perspective low KH is typically a good thing and pH swings are rarely an issue if everything is well-maintained. If keeping African cichlids or other "liquid rock" inhabitants, using an entirely carbonate based substrate is preferred by most. I have a different experience from Mark in that "a little dab" seems to be too much oftentimes, and simply adding a buffer to mix water works better for my needs.

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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My kh out of the tap is less than 1 dkh. Wanted to keep it at around 1 to 1.5 Was thinking of just throwing a tablespoon or so of crushed coral in the substrate and keep an eye on it.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 06:30 AM
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I use crushed coral in my koi pond and winter holding tanks, to keep the ph of the water up, because koi like it that way. It significantly raises and maintains the ph at 7 or above. Because koi produce a lot of waste, the crushed coral counteracts any drop in ph, which can be deadly to koi. I just put the crushed coral in the filter. I also use it in the gravel.


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 06:40 AM
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You can always pre-treat your water, too....

that is, using a 5 gallon bucket, add either a product to raise KH or crushed coral until you get to the desired KH. If there's too much KH, then simply dilute some of it to get the desired KH.


Then use that water for your water changes.



Just don't add KH to a tank that is actively buffering the pH down below 7!
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 11:33 AM
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I use crushed coral to maintain KH around 4°dKH in a 33 gallon for my shrimp, and I use about 200 grams in a HOB aquaclear, and it raises the KH from 2 to 4 over a few weeks slowly. You don't want to add too much, but if you do, it will still raise slowly with crushed coral which is more natural. I would avoid using sodium bicarbonate. It shoots up the pH/KH instantly and causes the fish/shrimp stress and it can be dangerous. Besides, it's only temporary and doesn't last.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan_ View Post
My kh out of the tap is less than 1 dkh. Wanted to keep it at around 1 to 1.5 Was thinking of just throwing a tablespoon or so of crushed coral in the substrate and keep an eye on it.
Don’t throw it in substrate, you lose control of it. A small bag in filter with about 1tbsp in it is where I would start in a 10gal. It is a slow process so getting it in the filter with high water flow speeds it up (weathering). Then in about 2 weeks you should see end results and you can adjust amount in bag as needed. The weathering of Ca/Mg rock will also speed a bit once a biofilm covers the rock (Biogenic Dissolution).
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, good advice. Will throw a teaspoon in a filter bag and keep an eye on things, in the end not really shooting for anything more than 2dkh. May have to add a pinch of potassium bicarbonate to adjust what the crushed coral doesn't.

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Just don't add KH to a tank that is actively buffering the pH down below 7!
Sorry, what do you mean by this, don't adjust kh if the pH is below 7. I don't understand. Do you mean don't adjust the kh of the tank water but adjust the replacement water during a water change?

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 03:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan_ View Post
Sorry, what do you mean by this, don't adjust kh if the pH is below 7. I don't understand. Do you mean don't adjust the kh of the tank water but adjust the replacement water during a water change?
Buffering substrates, the kind meant to lower pH and make the tank acidic, do so by absorbing KH (if there is any) from the water column and releasing acids (humic, tannic, fulvic...) to make the pH acidic... usually 5.0 to 6.8 pH, depending on soil.

Any time you add KH into a tank with active substrate, you are causing fluctuating parameters, and causing the substrate to exhaust faster as it has to work harder to keep a low pH. As such, a substrate that is meant to last 1-2 years may only last 4-6 months instead. If you add *a lot* of KH into the tank, it might exhaust even faster.



As for not adjusting KH of tank, but adjusting replacement water, you are making it easier for the inhabitants to adjust to changing parameters - especially if you use something like baking soda. Crushed coral might not be so bad since it might take a while to adjust the parameters.

If nothing is in the tank, then you could dial in the parameters where you want them to be before adding the inhabitants, then just pre-treat all new incoming water so it's more stable. That's all.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 04:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the information.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 05:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan_ View Post
Thanks for the information.
Just to clarify above by active substrate he means Aquasoil, Tropica Soil, etc, even Walstad type soil tanks to a degree, though if setup with proper sand grain size in Walstad tanks pore structure is tight enough KH compounds adsorption will be minimal. And if a real soil bed breaks down not a big deal.

Now aquasoil etc those will suck up KH like a sponge, their designed with bigger grains/larger pore spacing. You’ll be fighting a losing battle trying to overcome that high CEC substrate and as pointed out above actually shorten the useful life of those soil balls. Just doing your water changes and letting it add to carbonate system should be enough.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Very interesting, so would it be fair to say any medium with a high CEC will tend to draw the carbonates/KH out of the water and exchange it for something else.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-24-2020, 08:05 AM
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Very interesting, so would it be fair to say any medium with a high CEC will tend to draw the carbonates/KH out of the water and exchange it for something else.
Yes, it’s basically CEC binding sites are negative charged and they attract positive ions, even other negative ions once they bind with a organic acid such as humic/fulvic acids or chelating substances you add with ferts they can bind to CEC sites. Root hairs and multitude of fungus/microorganisms there then use gas passed to roots or pushed by currents into substrate to perform the actual nutrient stripping from the CEC sites. Oxygen is released into substrate as a byproduct of that process. Then CEC site then immediately becomes available to be repopulated by another ion or compound.

Really in substrate choices these are broken into 3 types of choices.

Inert substrate, 0 CEC value until say 6mo to a year when a bit broken down organic matter builds up in substrate from plant decay/poop etc. Still a low CEC value when mature but enough to get by on. Really takes very little water column dosing to saturate that small CEC potential. Mild, mild buffering effect, barely even noticeable.

The clay based stuff like Fluorite or volcanic types like eco complete. Very mild CEC value right out of bag. Again buffering effect almost unnoticeable.

Then soils, which have a extremely high CEC and buffering capacity. You just dose what you know you should be dosing per week and don’t worry about it being totally gone and unreadable on test kits next day. Those nutrients are there to be taken up roots of plants or released by a say a influx of distilled water on top off.

Either high or lower CEC substrate are your choices. If you want a true med CEC bed in your tank you pretty much have build it yourself by mixing something like coco peat 1 part to 4 part 1-3mm sand on bottom layer, then cover it with 1-1.5” of sand. You’ve just built a sandy loam substrate layer, true med CEC value but not the huge buffering sponge of soil balls. Just like a Walstad type tank organic decomposition in tank along with some light dosing will replenish that CEC layer with nutrients.
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