KH....Affect plants or not???? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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KH....Affect plants or not????

Ok....this is one for all the planted tank specialist that have been in the hobby for years, or anyone who wants to chime in. I have been reading some of the threads on KH and have been getting conficting answers. Some say that the plants will adapt to the KH level and others say that plants will be affected by it's level.

My tank has a KH of 15-19 and my PH is 7.2. I need to know if I need to try and lower my KH or not, and if I need to lower it what is the best and least costly way of doing this. I currently have an Ionics water filter that filters all water coming into the house, and uses softener salt when it regenerates after 900 gallons. I tested the GH from the tap and it is 1 but my KH is still 13-15.

So...lets solve this conflict shall we and come up with the best solution to lowering KH.

Thank you!

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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 02:11 PM
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kH is needed in a planted tank for several reasons. First of all, plants need some trace amounts for use in photosynthesis. Second, kH buffers a tank from extreme pH fluctuations (which will affect livestock before plants but is still relatively important). This buffering effect especially helps in CO2-injected tanks as otherwise the added CO2 could bottom out a tank's pH.

In general, most plants and livestock can adapt to live in varieties of water parameters, as long as those parameters aren't too extreme, and remain stable over time. (Which is one reason buffering is important). IMO I wouldn't try and alter your water's kH.

Different people may have different specific/specialized goals in mind in relation to their kH levels, depending on the water parameters they start with. When you start breeding livestock, this is mostly when specialized needs come into play.

I personally need to increase the kH in my tanks somewhat as my snails have recently started showing a calcium deficiency (white crumbly shells). Shrimp also need some kH in order to moult properly. However, the most delicate/expensive shrimp (CRS, Sulawesi shrimp, etc) have VERY specialized water parameter needs, and some more advanced hobbyists work to change and maintain specific water parameters in order to allow these critters the best chances of breeding and raising babies. Shrimp are just one of the more common examples on this forum... there are many others.





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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 02:11 PM
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the problem isn't KH, it's your water softener.
I'm guessing you're using sodium in the softener, and generally, plants don't like too much sodium and they need some GH too.. Calcium and magnesium are nutrients which the softener takes out


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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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I use Mortons Salt in the softener. So, if I am using the EI method of dosing, are the plants getting enough of these nutrients back?

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 03:09 PM
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You'd need to add Mg & Ca in addition to the EI dosing.

But the problem is still the sodium. Can you bypass the softener? It'll make things easier.

You can get plants that are sodium tolerant I guess.


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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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I believe it will make things worse if I bypass because then I will be dealing with very hard water and high levels of chlorine and other chemicals. Does sodium increase the KH?

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 03:22 PM
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Some softwater plants will not adapt to water with such a high KH and will melt away so lowering KH will be necessary if you want to grow these types. If you do not want to lower your KH (fight your water as some call it) you should check whatever you are about to buy will grow in high KH water.

BTW your GH is too low and should be increased as well, aim for a GH of 4~5.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp
I personally need to increase the kH in my tanks somewhat as my snails have recently started showing a calcium deficiency (white crumbly shells).
So why did you increase you KH if calcium is what you needed, was that a typo or did you use CaCO3?
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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My tank size is 55 gal, using Eco-Complete, DIY CO2 and as I said EI dosing. So...back to the question. Does the level of KH affect plants and if it does what is the best and least costly way of lowering it to reccommended levels.

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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewalltheway
So...back to the question. Does the level of KH affect plants
Quote:
Originally Posted by deicide wrote
Some softwater plants will not adapt to water with such a high KH and will melt away so lowering KH will be necessary if you want to grow these types.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dewalltheway
what is the best and least costly way of lowering it to reccommended levels
Get an RO unit, there are a bunch of them selling on Ebay for really cheap, www.buckeyefieldsupply.com or www.airwaterice.com.........
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deicide View Post
So why did you increase you KH if calcium is what you needed, was that a typo or did you use CaCO3?
FYI I was going to add some crushed coral but instead added some crushed eggshells (had that handy). Theoretically this will increase the kH if added enough, I'm sure it didn't make a measurable difference b/c I didn't add much.

Dewalt- My best advice is to leave your kH alone.

Get plants that do well in your tapwater as it is. Everyone's tank is different anyways and so you'll need to experiement with what does well for you along with everyone else.

Anything else will end up being a headache in the long run.





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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-25-2008, 11:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewalltheway View Post
My tank size is 55 gal, using Eco-Complete, DIY CO2 and as I said EI dosing. So...back to the question. Does the level of KH affect plants and if it does what is the best and least costly way of lowering it to reccommended levels.
To answer your general question, yes it can/will have an affect
depending on plants you are trying to grow.

I wouldn't say that there is a necessary level in general.
If trying to grow Tonina or most any of the other more
complicated plant sp. then lowering the KH to 4 or less would
be a huge advantage.

I have yet to find a need to add Ca or Mg to RO water,
I do cut it with my semi-soft tap water.

You need an RO unit to lower it effectively.
Do a search on ebay for Aqua Safe Systems for the best buy
to your $$$.

Regards

Craig

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 12:06 AM
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You can lower the pH only so far with C02.
You will be hard pressed to get it to drop below 6.0

No way you can bottom out the pH on a tank,
that would be battery acid, impossible to do
under these conditions.

You are confusing that scenario with 02 depletion.

The lower the KH the easier it is to lower pH and
02/oxygen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
kH buffers a tank from extreme pH fluctuations (which will affect livestock before plants but is still relatively important). This buffering effect especially helps in CO2-injected tanks as otherwise the added CO2 could bottom out a tank's pH.

Craig

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Last edited by WfxXx; 04-26-2008 at 05:13 AM.
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 01:35 AM
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My thoughts are right in line with WfxXx's. I've placed a heavy emphasis on experimenting with KH in the planted aquarium. I've used tap water with a KH of 17dKH, and while I could grow most plants, some were downright difficult to grow...Pogostemon stellata (narrow) comes to mind. It was really difficult to get enough CO2 into the water also.

I ended up buying an RO unit (Aqua Safe Systems on ebay) and using 100% RO water with ADA substrate. There was nothing I couldn't grow and it all grew effortlessly. I used no buffers whatsoever, nor did I add Ca or Mg, only micros and macros.

So does the KH affect plants? Absolutely. Will it keep you from growing plants? No, but it is far easier to grow them in a lower KH water, and it's far easier to dissolve CO2 into the water. I've noticed the following params:

0-5 dKH: You can grow anything.
6-10 dKH: You can grow anything but the ultra soft water plants (Tonina's, Erio's, etc)
10+ dKH: Most other plants, but some will be difficult.

You should either keep your KH low or high. Changing between the two will cause your plants to melt. You can easily keep fish and plants with a KH of 0. You will never cause the pH to "bottom out," but you can suffocate them (the fish) with too much CO2 since it's easier to dissolve CO2 into low KH water.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 02:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalon View Post
You can easily keep fish and plants with a KH of 0. You will never cause the pH to "bottom out," but you can suffocate them (the fish) with too much CO2 since it's easier to dissolve CO2 into low KH water.
Absolutely, depending on the type of fish one is
trying to keep it is easier to "choke" some than others.
So, knowing tank type you are trying to achieve whether
soft or not will determine type of fish selected,
for instance Characins prefer soft to very soft, whereas
Live-Bearers, Loaches etc. prefer it not so soft.

If noting fish gasping or choking at surface, don't freak out,
This is what to do, raise the spraybar or lily pipe to break
the waters surface and turn down C02 just a smidgen.

You add 02 that the fish are looking for at the surface and
releases or offgas the C02 which slowly raises the pH.
Finding that balance is not difficult, but it does take some
experience with super soft water.

Overall it is not complicated and a much more primitive
procedure than you would usually see on forums.
02 is your friend.

Craig

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Last edited by WfxXx; 04-26-2008 at 05:17 AM. Reason: I needed to add a couple of words-word :)
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashappar View Post
I'm in the group of people who see little significance in the whole idea of adding buffers to water. I do add GH, since my RO product water has low TDS around 5-7 and I do see deficiencies if I skimp on calcium and magnesium. My snails have plenty strong shells, I actually wish they were thinner. easier to smash them and feed to goodeidae..
Agreed, if you are keeping snails etc. then a Tonina
tank is the wrong tank. I keep a TDS of around 10
works good for me.
All my high tech ultra-soft water tanks get
NPK w/Trace minerals, iron, lots of C02 and small
amounts of Excel and lots of aeration everyday.
When the lights are not on, the tank is being aerated.
Lots of 02.

I like plants more, so that is what determines my tank.
If I want to keep snail, expensive shrimp, loaches
and live bearers, then they get a different setup
that is not so soft.

I do also agree with mistergreen about the water softner,
that may be OK for around the house,
but not best suited for a planted tank.

Craig

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