Originally Posted by Jeff Richard
I have a 55 gallon planted with Sag & val, crypts, hygro, sword and java fern. I have two 110 watt Aquasun bulbs lighting the tank. Substrait is #2 gravel w/laterite mix (3 years old). I use commercial fertilizer with each water change (currently using Flourish Iron, also Flourish Root Tabs). I have a DIY CO2 system (6 x 6 PVC cannister) connected to a Plantguild Power reactor.
My growth is OK ... was going great until my ballast went on my VHO system and had to use reg flor for a few months ... this was a year ago ... the tank is making strides but not there yet.
My water is SOFT ... 80 ppm/0-1 KH, 2 GH. I recently added Coral Gravel to the filter (Fluval 303). I change 30-40% every week to 2 weeks.
QUESTION - what do you recommend as regular additives to my water to get the proper minerals into the water column?
First of all, soft water is a great thing, some plants like Tonina need soft water, and it's a lot easier to make water harder than vice versa. So, you are lucky.
Personally, I would start by removing the coral gravel from your filter. Dosing chemicals directly into the water column will allow you to adjust your water chemistry more accurately.
I'm not sure what your targeted levels are but anywhere around 3-5kH and 3-5gH may be a good start with the plants you have.
To raise the kH, use normal baking soda (see the waterchem link below for amounts).
To raise the gH, I would recommend Seachem Equilibrium, which will also add some potassium (good), you can buy it at local stores or online, BigAlsOnline.com has good prices. You can also use the GH Builder on GregWatson.com, where a lot of PT members get their dry ferts:
A good overview of water chemistry can be found here:
Your tank has a lot of light for DIY CO2, maybe it is doing well and if so that's great, but if algae is an issue, you may want to consider using less light -or- adding pressurized CO2. I recommend reading and practicing the Estimative Index if you get into high light/pressurized CO2: