Experiment: Using Crushed Coral to increase PH (Planted tank w/CO2) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-26-2014, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Experiment: Using Crushed Coral to increase PH (Planted tank w/CO2)

Experiment was a failure! After closely monitoring all it did was my my PH more inconsistent unless I wanted it in the 7.8-8.0 PH range, then it would be 100% stable. CO2 and coral does not work. The more CO2, the harder the coral works. First day of the week you can have a Green checker, 4 days later it's back to blue. If you do a water change it'll go to green again. In conclusion, combining Crushed Coral is not a viable solution for the High Tech tanks.

Summary: For my tank, it looks like 3/4 cup crushed coral *3/8 cup* as filter media has resulted in a 2 KH/GH tap to increase to a 5 KH/GH. After my findings so far, after further experimenting I would recommend 1/8 cup per 10 gallons to start. If you want a high higher PH and I might double it. The progressively add 1/4 per gallon every week until you hit your ideal KH/GH. The following couple of days are important to the study, so I would hold off to see what happens after a water change.

Bennifits to Crushed Coral:
+Gradual Increase (less harm to fish)
+Requires little maintence (Just clean filter medium under water every time you clean the filter, the more BB the less it will leach change every 6 months)
+Long Lasting
+Inexpensive
+Stabilizes PH

Cons:
- If you need a PH above 8.0 this method will not be enough, it will help stabilize your PH though which is a huge perk
- Not instant: If you need a higher PH or more of a buffer, it is gradual but probably couldn't do under an emergency.

The High Tech Tank:

Equipment:
45 Gallon Tall Tank
CO2 Regulator
Ista Mix Max Large Reactor
Crushed Coral
Dry Ferts
Regal XP3 Canister
Aquaclear 70 Filter

Experiment:
Using 3/4 a cup of Crushed Coral contained in a mesh bag as filter media.
Contents placed within the mid section of the AC70 for easy access.

Day 0
45 Gallon Tank (Tall)
Water Parameters
PH: 6.2 (Tap 7.0)
A/N/N: 0
KH: 2
GH: 2
CO2: 60 BMP (CO2 Indicator is a Green with a bluish tint)

24 Hours
PH 6.6-6.7
KH: Not Tested
GH: Not Tested
Macro Fert Day
A/N/N: 0/0/.05
CO2 60 BPM (CO2 indicator turning slightly more blueish/green)
Excel (half cap liquid co2 added)

48 Hours
7.0 PH no changes, KH/GH not tested
Micro Fert Day
A/N/N: 0/0/.025
CO2 60 BPM (CO2 indicator closer to blue than green
Excel (cap of liquid co2 added)

60 Hours
6.5-6.6 PH
KH: 3
GH: 4
No Ferts today
A/N/N: 0/0/0
CO2 90 BPM (CO2 indicator closer to green again)

84 Hours
PH: 6.6-6.7
KH: 4
GH: 4-5
A/N/N: 0/0/.025 (Might need to up macro ferts now)
Macro Ferts today
CO2 90 BPM (CO2 closer to green, might bump up a little more if PH rises again)

108 hours
PH: 6.7
KH: 4-5 (green at 4, yellow 5)
GH: 5
A/N/N: 0/0/.05
Macro Ferts again
CO2 90 BPM (Lowered surface aggregation, CO2 checker Green)

Update 2 Weeks
Water Parameters
PH: 7.0 (Tap 7.0) (Tank Water running oxygen 7.8)
KH: 5-6
GH: 5-6

This is becoming way to much. I have cut the Coral in half. Hope to get back down to a nice 6.5-6.8 range. This stuff is more potent then I realized.

Note: I have changed this to an experiment tracking the process in the hopes it will help someone out in the future. Special thanks to Diana for giving me the courage and alternative ways to combat my water parameters.

Quote:
Original post before the experiment:
I have a high tech tank. In order to keep my PH above 6.0 I have to keep my co2 indicator in the blue/green zone, so I was considering adding coral.

45 Gallon Tank (Tall)
Water Parameters
PH: 6.2 (Tap 7.0)
A/N/N: 0
KH: 2
GH: 2

I assume by my KH/GH I have soft water. I am considering using Crushed Coral in a mesh back that would go in my Aqua Clear 70 HOB.

My questions are:
1.) With my parameters would Crushed Coral be effective ideally I would have 6.5-7.0 PH
2.) How much would I need?
3.) How long does it last until it needs replaced?

Last edited by Josiah; 07-18-2014 at 11:39 PM. Reason: title change, added another day
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-27-2014, 03:00 AM
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For a 45 gallon tank you might try as much as a cup in a nylon stocking, and make sure the water runs through it. It won't correct the whole tank by itself, but it will act to stabilize the GH and KH.
When you do a water change add Seachem Equilibrium or other GH booster, if you want to raise the GH (optional) and potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to raise the KH. Carbonates will help raise the pH. You may have to try a few different recipes to get it right, so it is high enough to keep the pH where you want it after you add the CO2.
If there is something in the tank removing the KH then the coral sand in the filter will replace it slowly and hopefully maintain stable conditions.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-27-2014, 03:09 AM Thread Starter
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Ok sounds good. I just want to get it up to at least 6.5. I checked the KH/GH again and now I'm sure it's 2 for both.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-27-2014, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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Update: I put almost a cup in last night. Today my readings are up to 6.6-6.7 ph. My co2 checker has turned more blue. Is this a result of the buffer? Bubble count has not changed.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-28-2014, 01:23 AM
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What are the readings for GH and KH?
Yes, the KH is acting like a buffer and raising the pH.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-28-2014, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Well I buffed the CO2 intake from 60 bpm to 90 bpm. PH checked out at 6.5-6.6 today. I will test the GH and KH later. I had to turn up the CO2 because with the crushed coral the co2 indicator went closer to blue. I used approximately 3/4 cup of crushed coral in a mesh bag.

Is that common to need more CO2 with crushed coral?

To compare I just tested my non-coral tank to compare.

With Coral:
KH: 3
GH: 4

Without Coral:
KH: 2
GH: 2

Last edited by Josiah; 06-28-2014 at 09:10 PM. Reason: comparison
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-29-2014, 03:39 AM
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When the KH is higher it is harder to make the pH go down, so whatever you are adding (peat moss, CO2, driftwood, acidic chemicals) you will have to add more to get the same lowering of the pH.

How are the plants and fish responding to the increasing minerals?
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-29-2014, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
When the KH is higher it is harder to make the pH go down, so whatever you are adding (peat moss, CO2, driftwood, acidic chemicals) you will have to add more to get the same lowering of the pH.

How are the plants and fish responding to the increasing minerals?
That's the beauty of it. I never wanted the PH to be that low in the first place, and I also wanted to inject more CO2. I wanted something stable, consistent, and that could gradually rise the PH. I will test again tomorrow.

As far as fish go:
The guppies are happy and fanning non-stop
The Neons are finally schooling (not sure what to make of that) - This is more likely the removal of two huge amazon swords growing over the tank.
The BN Pleco is moving around a lot more, seems like she has more energy. Gradual movements, but she's hiding less.
The Amano Shrimp seem more energetic, seem to be molting more, and are effeminately working harder to get algae.
The German Blue Ram is the iffy one. I've had him for years. He's older, over 2 years, and his mate past away, so things were already looking fairly doubtful for the poor guy before the experiment. I have noticed that he's gotten more of his black spots back. I don't really feel like getting another RCS as I have a10 gallon tank with over 100 Red Cherry Shrimp filled to the brim with java moss that I would love to gradually introduce to the 45 gallon. I just don't trust the GBR with the RCS.

Well that's probably more information then you wanted; however, it is an experiment and I would rather be thorough.

Last edited by Josiah; 06-30-2014 at 03:02 AM. Reason: grammar
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-30-2014, 12:04 AM
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So put the GBR in the 10, with softer, more acidic water, and put the RCS in the larger tank. Whatever few shrimp stay in the 10 will make life interesting for the GBR.
I understand they do not live long, so give him a happy old age.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-30-2014, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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84 Hours
PH: 6.6-6.7
KH: 4
GH: 4-5
A/N/N: 0/0/.025 (Might need to up macro ferts now)
Macro Ferts today
CO2 90 BPM (CO2 closer to green, might bump up a little more if PH goes up)

As far as the GBR: I think he's actually fine. I will watch him closely. He lost color after his spouse died and I think he's picking it back up honestly. I think getting his darker blacks back means he's happier. I'll look that up after this post.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-02-2014, 05:53 AM Thread Starter
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108 hours
PH: 6.7
KH: 4-5 (green at 4, yellow 5)
GH: 5
A/N/N: 0/0/.05
Macro Ferts again
CO2 90 BPM (Lowered surface aggregation, CO2 checker Green)

Tomorrow I will be doing a water change before work and test again after.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-03-2014, 08:04 AM Thread Starter
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First water change was a success. PH remained stable. Only fluctuates .1-.2 PH max from night to day now. The water change kept the PH much more stable then before.

Before first water change
KH/GH was closer to 5 but between 4-5

After water change
KH/GH was closer to 4 but between 4-5

So far I'm extremely happy with the results. I'm changing my ferts so will be checking back mid later in the week. I actually hope it doesn't go much higher. Anything above 7.0 and I've over done the crushed coral.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-04-2014, 02:49 AM
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Thank you very much for continuing this thread. Sure shows that there are simple ways to add a few minerals to the tank!

Here is a concern:
Some rock is made of a blend of slightly different forms of calcium and magnesium carbonates. I think oyster shell and coral are uniform. The different materials in the rocks dissolve at different rates. You might find the materials you use (especially limestone sand, dolomite, calcite and other minerals) lose effectiveness over time, but you can still see the material.
The easy to dissolve part has dissolved, leaving the material that does not dissolve so easily.
Also, as the GH, KH and pH rise these materials dissolve more slowly. This is the reason that the water will not keep on getting harder and higher pH. Each mineral has a certain point where it pretty much won't dissolve any more. This varies.

Continue monitoring the parameters, and see what happens over several weeks.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately PH has increased to much, so I have less than halved the amount of Crushed Coral used.

7.0 PH to 7.9 is a bigger jump than I was looking for. Still trying to achieve that .4 ph buffer to keep it at 6.5 ph or greater for beneficial bacteria. If anyone has any advice I am all ears. I wanted more buffer but this is to much.

Now slightly under 3/8 cups.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 11:37 PM
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Remove the crushed coral, or use very little.

Use potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to stabilize the KH at about 3-5 German degrees of hardness.
This might bring the pH into the range you want.
1 teaspoon of baking soda per 30 gallons will raise the KH by 2 German degrees of hardness. Use less potassium bicarbonate to do the same thing. I would start at 3 degrees, run it for a day or so then check the pH.
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