Using Black water additive to regulate PH ? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-29-2014, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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Using Black water additive to regulate PH ?
If I was to start using a chemical to lower the PH in my tank, these are
what I have found to do it/w.
I have fish that came from a pond which is the result of a dam on a steam which flows through a cypress aria. The PH in it s 6.4
I know my fish are now used to my tank water but if I do decide to use something like this, it is because I use it after each water change so I know it is the same always in my tank.
A bag of peat in the filter seems not as dependable to regulate water PH
with as it does loose effectiveness after a while.
So now either tell me why I should just skip this or why do it in some other way that you use/w details for that reason Please because repetedly I hear that the plants will groiw better if the water is below a 7 PH.
Some of my shrimp still have a small gap in their shell even after I started
using MGSO4. I also ordered CaSO4 to help this.
But it has occurred to me that by trying to use Distilled water to bring
down the PH that all I have done is lower the TDS.
So why not just use tap water and add an additive to lower the PH ?

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-29-2014, 01:04 PM
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I'm under the impression that your KH is much more important than PH for both plants and critters. Also, stability is even more important. Just my 0.02.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-29-2014, 04:40 PM
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GH is more important to fish. There are some fish that cannot handle the higher calcium levels of harder water. There are many fish that cannot get enough calcium out of soft water.

Many fish come from black water rivers, and similar environments. These waters are high in organic acids. Bacteria seem not to thrive in these environments. The fish from these waters might have a somewhat less effective immune system because they depend on there being a reduced bacteria count in the water.

Here is how I would set up the tank(s) in question:
1) Research the livestock. Find out their optimum GH, and the acceptable range. Keep animals together only if they thrive under similar conditions. Make their tank water the right GH.
Lower GH by blending tap with distilled or RO.
Raise GH by adding THE RIGHT MATERIAL.
GH is a combined test for both Ca and Mg. The livestock need both minerals. If you are only adding one (Mg, for example, from Epsom salt) then the animals will not be getting the Ca they need, even if the GH test is turning the right color.
You are not altering the GH just to get the right color on the test. You are altering the GH so the water has the right mineral balance for the livestock.
Plants use Ca and Mg in a ratio of about 4 parts Ca to 1 part Mg. Fish are OK with this ratio, too. So, when you are setting your GH make sure you are using a product with the right balance of Ca:Mg.
If you think the tap water is not balanced this way, then get a fresh water calcium test, then research the formula so you can figure out the Mg.

2) I make the KH pretty close to the GH. I do this because in nature the main source of both carbonates and Ca and Mg is dissolving minerals such as limestone and its many related minerals. When this sort of rock dissolves the GH and KH of the water end up fairly close.
Blend tap water with RO or distilled to reduce the KH.
Add potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate (Baking soda) to raise KH.
Nitrifying bacteria use the carbon from carbonates. Many organic processes like decomposing waste also uses this. Monitor the KH in the tank, and if it starts to drop you may have to add more carbonates.
One way to do this is to keep a bag (nylon stocking) of limestone sand, coral sand, oyster shell grit or similar material in the filter. Note that these materials will also raise the GH.

When the GH and KH are in the right range for the fish then the pH and TDS are likely to be pretty close to the right range.
For black water species I add a nylon stocking of peat moss to the filter, and prep the water with peat moss in the barrel.
I am not looking for a specific pH, but rather the right mineral levels for the fish, and the right water chemistry with the black water or organic acids.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-29-2014, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Actualy I have ordered some CaSO4 to add to my dosing and wondered why it was so high of a recommended dose on the calculator as compared to the other nutrients.
But I do have a couple of wrinkled leaves here and there which suggest it's need.
I will look up ths fish and also check the other subspecies that I intend to get as well as the RCS(two tanks, the couple of them in my Pigmy sunfish tank will have to take their chances but the shrimp tank can be regulated by their needs) as this (lack of it) may well be the reason for the gap in the shrimps shells.
The specific part of this about the PH is plant related but the "collected" sunfish did
come from water with a 6.4 PH but since they come from the entire Gulf Coast region that lets you know they can live in most any PH within reason. But that same wide range tells me it will be hard to pin down a specific preferred GH.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-30-2014, 03:26 PM
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Fish and the type of shrimp you have (Neos) can live with a wide range of ph levels. Plants do better in ph levels of 7 or below? If my plants weren't doing well, the last thing I would think it was is the ph, same with fish. I have never heard of anyone wanting to adjust for their plants nor is there much talk I have seen about it in diagnosis in plant problems...just wondering where you read it? I think both are much more dependent on gh levels. What is the gh level of your tap?

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-30-2014, 05:33 PM
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pH and plants:

Different fertilizers enter into compounds with soil molecules.
At different pH different fertilizers can be more available (looser bonds or other reasons) and other ferts can be quite tightly bound, and so much less available.

As a rough guide the maximum level of fertilizers being available to most plants is when the pH is pretty close to neutral and just below. pH from about 6.5 to 7.0


We are adding fertilizers to our tanks frequently.
Even at extreme pH levels the fertilizers are not getting locked up so fast that the plants would show deficiencies as long as we are steadily adding ferts.

There is not therefore the need to micromanage the pH in the aquariums from the plants' point of view.

Much better to set the GH (calcium and magnesium levels) at the right level for the fish.
If you have livestock that can handle a wide range of conditions, then set this wherever you want within that range. If any one animal you are keeping demands a narrow range, then target that range.
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