Water Chemistry Calculator - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2005, 05:28 AM Thread Starter
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Question Water Chemistry Calculator

OK, Iíve been reading up like crazy both here and elsewhere, in places such as ďThe Ecology of the Planted AquariaĒ (a really fantastic book), thekrib.com, Steveís, etc.

While it all adds up to an embarrassment of riches, thereís a good deal of conflicting information and no real harmonized scheme for what I seek, which is a simple poor manís table for calculating how much of what I need to add to my soft Seattle water to make it ideal for the planted tank.

Iím not talking about plant nutrient supplementation here, but rather basic water stabilization, with an emphasis on alkalinity, hardness and pH. Iím envisioning, perhaps, a web application akin to the ever popular (and admittedly super simple) tank volume calculator http://pw2.netcom.com/~ddougal/AquaVol/aquavols.html but instead of entering in tank dimensions, I could enter tap water parameters and the application would spit out a recipe (e.g. 1:1:.5 parts baking soda, Epsom salts, CACO3 or whatever) to be added x units/gallon at a time to my tap water. Additional variables could include whether or not Iím jacking up the light and injecting CO2. It would be interesting to see four columns as follows:

1) What to add with no supplemental CO2 or Ďbrightí light
2) What to add if just CO2 is injected
3) What to add if just light is increased
4) What to add if both Ďbrightí light and CO2 are in play

In the absence of this fantasy tool I guess Iím going to have to figure out all of the calculations myself (after parsing through the aforementioned mountain of sometimes conflicting information) and then build an Excel workbook; that is unless someone can point me to an existing resource somewhere. (The solver function in Excel could prove really useful here, now that I think about it.)

So am I wrong about the lack of a harmonized tool? If so, who wants to volunteer to help me build one?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2005, 11:17 AM
Stu
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My immediate thoughts are that there are just too many parameters governing the running and maintaining of a planted tank, to be able to make a simple chart/calculator/program.

I'm not saying a program couldn't be made, but I'm suggesting that to cover all variables, you would have to make it very complex and even then, I'm not sure about it's accuracy. There just isn't enough scientific research to precisely say how a tank will react to minute levels of nutrients/parameters. For example, when we dose the fertilisers into our tanks, we are going on the grounds of tank size, amount of lighting and CO2 in general, but there are finite variables to consider such as type of plants in the tank, their natural habitat, how many plants, how many of each species present, how densly planted, age of plant, allelopathy, competition, position, height, fish interaction, type of lighting, spectrum of lighting, age of bulb, height of bulb from water....... the list goes on! This is why even a dosing plan like the Estimative Index that works quite well, still needs a relatively large water change each week to "reset" the tank to account for these errors in calculation.

Every single tank is different in some way.... lets face it, if we all had a system to follow that worked so well, none of us would be here on this forum!

I don't mean to extinguish your flame of inspiration, I personally am all for computerised programs and scientific analysis wherever possible, but I think you are being a little too ambitious here.

p.s. I am reading through Ecology of the Planted Aquaria at the moment.... it's an excellent book!


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2005, 11:32 AM
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Just to add (and summarise) a point....
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoffboy
In the absence of this fantasy tool I guess Iím going to have to figure out all of the calculations myself...
As I said, every tank is different so you need to apply the knowledge from the available literature and research to your own tank to get the perfect results, which can be a long laborious process.

What Diana Walstad's and Tom Barr's methods do (to name but two), is to try and remove the need for this process. Diana's will only work for a specific style of tank; the natural planted tank, and Tom's method requires a strict action plan.

I spent a very long time planning my tank and what I wanted to achieve. I did this by trawling through all available internet resources, and using that information to help me realise what I wanted out of my tank.
This is akin to what I have said above, where you can either hone your tank to perfection, or follow an action plan or guide to get similar results, but perhaps without knowing why.
I could have simply asked one person or followed one guide on "how to set up a planted tank" and bought all equipment as per those instructions, but instead I chose to have what is essentially my setup.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2005, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Stu, you make some really excellent points above and I appreciate all of the thought you put into both posts. I think Iíve gotten myself would around the axle a bit, since all I really want is to raise my tap water alkalinity so that my pH will be less vulnerable to swings in the presence of CO2 injection. With basically no measurable kH or gH in my tap water, Iím under the impression that I can safely use calcium carbonate and call it a day, with perhaps a later addition of Epsom salts if my seasoned water shows a pH drop prior to adding it to my aquariums. Youíll note all of this mental calculation is happening without any consideration of the eventual tank that the water will occupy. I know once that happens all bets are off as a zillion other variables come into play. People tell me Iím lucky to have such soft water because itís so cheap to alter. I just want a reliable tool for making the basic alteration. Short of that, Iíll tinker and see what I come up with. Hell, thatís half the fun of this hobby, right?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2005, 04:46 PM
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I am able to advise because I have had first hand experience.... I've tried things like that before, like recently I thought about creating a customised database from scracth for my aquaria, then soon realised after starting, just how much work was involved and quickly scrapped that idea! (I now use Aquarix software which does it for me. To cite my own post, Aquarix is an example of a guide/help/tool to get the job done and my own custom database would be the perfect tool, but in this instance it was best to go with the simplified version)

For raising your KH, I would personally use both CaCO3 and MgSO4 to ensure you have enough Mg in your water, else you might end up with a defficiency further down the line.

Don't fret too much about not knowing exactly what you want you tank to be in the future. As you said, part of the fun is the learning process and learning from your own mistakes! Heck, I don't even really know how I want my tank to look eventually..... I have a picture of a tank design I will probably copy because I really love the layout.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2005, 04:59 PM
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Hoffboy, I know this doesn't get you all the way to what you are looking for... But after you've added all the stuff to the tank you are going to add, and still need to raise your KH, use the following formula...

Gallons in Tank * ((Target KH - Tank KH) / 50 ) = Teaspoons (level) of Arm & Hammer baking soda to add

Works like a charm (i.e. - very accurately) for me!

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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