PH/KH crashing - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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PH/KH crashing

Okay, just recently moved and set my tank back up here at the new house. I changed all the substrate from aquariumplants.com. 3 pieces of manzanita and some large pieces of seeded filter foam were kept wet and submerged in a 1 day move to a temporary tank, where i kept the fish and plants. Now that i have the tank set up and its been almost a month, I added a ph controller for my c02 and notice PH crashing. Out of the tap, PH is 7.6 KH 5-6. Now over the course of a few days, my PH is down to 5.5-6. KH is almost non existent. I didnt have this problem with the old setup before I moved. What is eating up my kh causing my ph to follow? Is it the plants? which right now are primarily root feeders. Or could it be the nitrification process trying to get going? I dont have a test kit right now, but I had a few strips with nitrite and nitrate on it, nitrite was about 5, and nitrate was upwards of 20-40, and I have been dosing my ferts so I wasn't shocked about nitrate. What worried me was a nitrite reading from the test strips, not exactly accurate but its something.

Ive never came across this problem before, how should I go about keeping my kh up and stable? It seems to be dropping almost 2 points through a week. 150g with a 50g sump. If my cycle hasnt finished the ph alone keeps it from continuing if its dropping so low correct? Though im not as worried about the cycle in a planted tank. The ph drives so low that my controller never turns on and Im not getting c02 in the tank.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 06:32 PM
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adjusting KH
I use baking soda because it has great solubility, low cost, availability and consistent results. No issues with it precipitating out of solution either. The sodium content of baking soda isn't a high enough concentration at the level I dose to effect flora or fauna. Dosed at water changes to test out as 2dKH is enough to maintain stable PH values in the 7.0 - 7.4 range without CO2 and enough to prevent a pH crash using gas. I've only once seen tested values drop after setting parameters and that was after long term neglect on a trimmings tank.

To increase KH (using leveled teaspoons)
1/8 TSP : 6.6 gallons = 1dKH
1/4 TSP : 13.2 gallons = 1dKH
1/2 TSP : 26.4 gallons = 1dKH

I keep softwater parameters in the 3-5dGH range and always mix for 2dKH.
TDS stays in the lower range and I like the results.
CaCO3 doesn't mix very well in my experience using it.
Potassium carbonate or calcium based are our 2 best choices looking for a buffer. BS is the cheapest, has great solubility and is readily available.

In the past I have added limestone (Texas holy rock) to my hardscape and didn't like how much my water increased in buffer over a weeks time (Rising everyday). Crushed coral would do the same thing so does cuttlebone. With the BS I mix to a desired value and there it remains.

I use controllers also on the gas so I prefer static changes I can control so I've stayed with the BS for KH.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 06:42 PM
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You say you changed all the substrate from aquariumplants.com. Does that mean you are now using that? That is similar to turface, has a high cec and will suck the KH out of your water like a straw for a few weeks. You can cure this by the suggestions above, but be careful, the salt in the tank will not dissolve, so adding too much will change the salinity of the tank. Water changes cure this.

Furthermore, you should get in the habit of using a GH Booster every water change. This helps keep your minerals up, increases redox, and keeps the PH from crashing week to week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronron23 View Post
Okay, just recently moved and set my tank back up here at the new house. I changed all the substrate from aquariumplants.com. 3 pieces of manzanita and some large pieces of seeded filter foam were kept wet and submerged in a 1 day move to a temporary tank, where i kept the fish and plants. Now that i have the tank set up and its been almost a month, I added a ph controller for my c02 and notice PH crashing. Out of the tap, PH is 7.6 KH 5-6. Now over the course of a few days, my PH is down to 5.5-6. KH is almost non existent. I didnt have this problem with the old setup before I moved. What is eating up my kh causing my ph to follow? Is it the plants? which right now are primarily root feeders. Or could it be the nitrification process trying to get going? I dont have a test kit right now, but I had a few strips with nitrite and nitrate on it, nitrite was about 5, and nitrate was upwards of 20-40, and I have been dosing my ferts so I wasn't shocked about nitrate. What worried me was a nitrite reading from the test strips, not exactly accurate but its something.

Ive never came across this problem before, how should I go about keeping my kh up and stable? It seems to be dropping almost 2 points through a week. 150g with a 50g sump. If my cycle hasnt finished the ph alone keeps it from continuing if its dropping so low correct? Though im not as worried about the cycle in a planted tank. The ph drives so low that my controller never turns on and Im not getting c02 in the tank.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I am using this now, Thanks for the heads up about it sucking up kh. Would this rate ever slow down or eventually stop? Its only been up for about 3 weeks. I do 50% wc every sunday or monday which ever suits me best. I wasn't aware of this until I added my controller last week, always used a timer. Ill pick some gh booster up today, doing an early water change cause the ph was 5.5 this morning. It was 7.4 on tuesday.

By using BS, how much salt are we talking about?

Thanks for the fast replies too, Im worried about the fish im surprised how lively and colorful they still are after the ph swings every week.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Trickerie View Post
You say you changed all the substrate from aquariumplants.com. Does that mean you are now using that? That is similar to turface, has a high cec and will suck the KH out of your water like a straw for a few weeks. You can cure this by the suggestions above, but be careful, the salt in the tank will not dissolve, so adding too much will change the salinity of the tank. Water changes cure this.

Furthermore, you should get in the habit of using a GH Booster every water change. This helps keep your minerals up, increases redox, and keeps the PH from crashing week to week.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Just read the linked post and understand your concern reading it.

"Further, the sodium ions will eventually reach levels that are intolerable for soft water fish (Weitzman et al. 1996)."

I can only tell you I add BS after water changes using RO and have for over 3yrs now.
Water changes remove those sodium ions that poster is concerned with (imo),,, if not I'm sure my angelfish would be dead by now. They are happy if breeding non stop indicates health.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I wasn't aware there was a newer post today. Ive kept it on this page and refreshed it from time to time. Ill give the BS a try, Im hoping it is just a my substrate and it will settle out eventually. The kh out of the tap would be okay with me to use if it would last more than a week haah
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 10:29 PM
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Im almost positive the problem is your substrate. I used safe-t-sorb, which is similar to the type of clay you are using from aquariumplants.om and it had to same effects on my water. Depending on how much substrate you used (I only used it as a cap) it will eventually make enough Ca exchanges and stop drastically lowering your KH. Until then, just add some baking soda/gh booster every water change and you will fine.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 12:51 AM
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I use Soil Master Select or Turface, and these also will remove the carbonates. I have solved the problem 3 ways:
1) Blend coral sand and Turface, about 50-50. This is in an African tank. The KH is stable.
2) Add baking soda at the rates suggested: 1 teaspoon in a 29 gallon tank = 2 dKH, and raises the pH from bottom of the test (so 6 or lower) to 6.2.
3) Ignore it.

In case 2) I was adding BS for a couple of years, and had more than one tank with quite a range of fish. Lots of water changes so sodium buildup was not a problem.

You could also add carbonates from other sources and get away from the sodium issue.
Calcium carbonate (adds Ca, too, a necessary plant nutrient, will raise GH)
Oystershell grit, sold for small birds like Budgies.
Coral sand, found in aquarium stores.
These last 2 can be placed in nylon stockings in the filter. I am not sure how much it will take of either of these. Small amounts might not do much for such 'hungry' substrate, and larger amounts will raise the mineral levels, the GH.
There are other sourced of carbonates for aquariums that do not have Ca or Mg with them.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 01:35 AM
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Adding to the above post; potassium carbonate effects TDS and KH but not GH.
triple if not more on the price and harder to find than BS which is sold everywhere.


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