Water problems - Low Kh - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-14-2006, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Water problems - Low Kh

I dont usually test the water, but today I decided to do some water tests having done the water change yesterday.

Well anyway, the results were a bit shocking.

PH - 6.5
KH - 1
GH - 16
CO2 - 9.5
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 50mg/l
PO4 - 0.1 ppm

Now this tank has been running for a couple of years now. Has always had a pressurized co2 system installed and the only couple of times I tested the water, the parameters were good.

What amazed me are the no3 and kh readings. The tank is heavily stocked but but its heavily planted too, so I dont know how I got such a high nitrate reading. Plus I do 30% weekly water changes too.

About the kh, our local tap water is really hard, the gh readings are normal, I have a high input if co2 in the tank, so I cant explain the low kh either.

Can anyone shed some light on this?

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-14-2006, 09:07 PM
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Bad test kit maybe?

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-15-2006, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Will the test kits go bad if they are about 1 to 2 years old?

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-16-2006, 01:09 PM
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Test kit do have an expiration date on them. I also think they can go bad if they are kept at the wrong temperature.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2006, 08:04 AM Thread Starter
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Hello, I have bought another KH test kit, and bought give the same results.

Below are the water parameters as of this morning.

Tap Water Parameters

PH 7.5
KH 6
GH 17

Aquarium Water Parameters

PH 6.5
KH 1
GH 16

Why is the kh crashing so much?

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2006, 04:07 PM
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Growing plants will use whatever source of carbon they can find. If CO2 ppm is too low they will start to use carbonates for carbon, and that reduces the KH. If you have pressurized CO2, as you said, you should be increasing the bubble rate so you get a lot more ppm of CO2 in the tank. Don't go by the KH/pH tables. Just raise it a bit every day, while watching the fish carefully looking for clustering at the water surface, colors fading, etc. which show they are uncomfortable with the high CO2. When that happens, back off on CO2 until they are again comfortable. That is the CO2 rate you need in the tank. Check pH, KH, bubble rate, and use those numbers as your targets to keep a steady CO2 ppm.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2006, 05:16 PM
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Whooh, KH 1!! You are looking square in the face of a pH crash. You need to get the KH up pronto. How. Add some (~1/4 cup) crushed coral in the cannister filter in a media bag, or dose some baking soda. One teaspoon will raise KH up around 4 degrees per 13 gallons of water I believe. Most everyone with soft water has to replenish KH when using pressurized CO2. Double check that dose at rex grigg's site on water chemistry at Rexgrigg.com too.





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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2006, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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By the way, I have a ph controller too, my ph is set to 6.5. If I increase the bubble rate, it will just dissolve more co2 quickly and than when the ph of the tank reaches 6.5 it will cut the co2 supply.

So do I reduce the ph of the tank?

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2006, 07:46 PM
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There really is no point in controlling pH, except when you can use that to control how much CO2 is in the water. If you keep the KH above 3, say 3 to 4, you shouldn't have to worry about pH crashing. Most of us, myself included, have too little CO2 in the water when we depend on the KH/pH relationship to calculate the ppm of CO2. All of the things that can go wrong with that relationship seem to give us a too high reading of CO2. The one test that doesn't do that is the fish's response. It is cruel to subject the fish to overly high CO2, but it isn't cruel to briefly raise the CO2 too high and then back off as soon as they get distressed - no more cruel than the pain of an injection is to us (?). So, why not use that one reliable method for determining where our CO2 settings should be?

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2006, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dieni
By the way, I have a ph controller too, my ph is set to 6.5. If I increase the bubble rate, it will just dissolve more co2 quickly and than when the ph of the tank reaches 6.5 it will cut the co2 supply.

So do I reduce the ph of the tank?
Just get your KH up to 4-5 dKH.. 6.5 is a decent target pH with CO2 around 30ppm or a little higher. I think pH monitors are handy tools, myself, though they can be off in calibration, So one needs to stay on top of that by checking monthly... with a buffer sol. of 7.0 pH to calibrate the probe's electrode.





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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2006, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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I calibrate the electrode once a month, its not such a big deal.

So should I use baking soda to raise the kh to 4? If I do this the ph will go up too, than if I add more co2 to get the ph to 6.5, will the kh reduce or it will stay the same?

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-11-2006, 01:47 AM
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The KH, in my experience never stays exactly the same, but adding CO2 shouldn't change the KH. One thing I noticed is that if I measured KH immediately after adding the bicarbonate of soda it was a higher measurement than I would get the next day, and it would stay at the next day number for a week or more. I don't know why that happens.

Don't fool yourself by thinking you have made an accurate measurement of CO2 when you get the KH and pH and use the tables. At best the number you get is an approximation, but more often it is way higher than the actual CO2 amount in the water. Accurate measurements of CO2 in water as it exists in the real world takes some expensive test equipment, and then the number may be off a bit. What I read about this says it is because the CO2 exists in the water as a solute, as a chemical compound with the water, and as a chemical compound with what ever is also in the water. And, the ratios of the amounts in each category are not constant.

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-11-2006, 03:38 AM
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Are you dosing any ferts? In addition to the above recommendations, you may want to increase your PO4 as well - you're on the low side. That may also help your plants consume some more of the NO3.

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-11-2006, 08:44 AM
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I did a KH test for my tap water and was 6 dKH as well. So the reading is probably correct since I live in the Southern part of Malta too.

I think that since you have a PH controller which is set up to achieve a PH of 6.5, the co2 injected by your apparatus is approx 10ppm of CO2. Targeting for a PH of 6.8 is almost impossible with a KH of 1.Luckily you have the Ph controller that prevents your PH from becoming extremely acidic. The dissolved co2 in your tank may therefore be lacking. In return, the plants are using an alternartive source of carbon deriving it from the carbonates which will accelerate the process of lowering the Carbonate hardness in your tank.
I think that if you manage to increase the KH to an acceptable level (between 4 and 6 say) then the co2 injected by your system will be sufficient for your plants and will not resort to other sources of carbon (which require more energy from plant). As suggested you may try to increase Kh by adding baking soda. Seachem also has a product for such purposes which they claim is free from any phosphate buffers. This is just my 2 cents and I am sure that more expert advice will be given []

Regarding your high Nitrate level: How much do you feed those lovely discus?
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-11-2006, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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Well after reading all the advice given, I am going to do a couple of large water changes so that I see if I will manage to get the KH upto about 4, it shouldnt be that difficult considering that the tapwater has a kh of 6.

If I see that the kh keep crashing down, I will add baking soda.

This tank has lately undergone a large change with the lighting. So I am starting to sort out the fertilising, I have bought NPK in dry chemicals. As for the high nitrates, its probably a bad test kit. I am waiting for a new one to see the actual nitrate level., but when I used to check for nitrates before, the amount was always about 0ppm.

Hi Rams, nice to see you here. The mecca of planted tanks Thanks for checking the kh for me? What is your tap water ph? Until sometime ago, the co2 levels were fine, all this happened once I upgraded the lighting.

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