Questions Regarding Hardness & PH - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-30-2014, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Question Questions Regarding Hardness & PH

I know in most cases it is best not to mess with these things but I think in my case, I really do need to. When I used my tap water (well water actually) it wasn't an issue, but then I had a problem with my water and no longer trust it for my fish. I live in the mountains and there is a spring that the locals get drinking water from so I started using that for my fish. The problem is I don't think my new cherry shrimp are going to last long with this water. As far as I can tell, its close to RO.

PH 6
GH 1 degree
KH 1 degree
TDS 13

For now I have been adding a capful of liquid calcium everyday to help a bit and I have seen a few successful molts so that's good anyways, but I have also had an unexplained death, so I would like to get this problem sorted. So, My questions are

Regarding the options for raising the levels, which are the most reliable and stable. At first I thought of crushed coral, but saw that it doesn't play well with CO2. So I thought maybe a bag of limestone in my canister filter. Then I saw baking soda was an option as well. I know the liquid ph adjusters are a big no due to spikes but what about the powders for hardness?

What levels do I want/need According to my research over multiple sites for each species in my tank, it seems a good safe and happy medium would be

Temp 74-77
GH 8-12
KH 8-12
PH 6.5-7.5 (Would need to be at the higher end to allow for drop due to CO2)
TDS 100-200

HOWEVER, I am also seeing on multiple websites that hardness for plants should be 3..... but this doesn't make much sense to me as obviously most everyone on this forum has both plants and livestock so what am I missing?

So any help would be greatly appreciated. I really want everyone to be happy and healthy.

~Tomorrow is never promised~
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-31-2014, 03:07 AM
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Don't worry about the plants. The 3 degrees GH is more of a suggested minimum for most plants to be sure they have the Ca and Mg they need.

Set the GH and KH for the livestock.

Seachem Equilibrium and other GH boosters have Ca, Mg, and often potassium, sometimes other minerals. Read the label. Be very careful that the product does not have sodium chloride (salt). You can probably find liquid or dry products. The key to avoiding the shock is to make the change slowly. Especially so great a change. Perhaps bring up the GH a degree every other day. Dissolve the dry products before adding them to the tank. They may cloud the water for a few minutes or a bit longer, but it should clear pretty fast.

Carbonates and bicarbonates are often available in combination with other minerals.
Calcium or magnesium carbonates are limestone and related materials (Coral, shells). They dissolve slowly, creating that slow change you want. You could try a small amount in a bag in the filter, and see if that does it for you. Slow change is just right, but if it seems too slow, then add a bit more. Cautiously. When the water is as soft and acidic as yours these materials will break down very quickly, and might make greater changes in the water than you want. As the parameters get closer to your target these materials dissolve more slowly.

You can get bicarbonates without the calcium in the form of sodium bicarbonate (Baking soda) or potassium bicarbonate.


I think you are going to have a hard time getting the GH and KH that high, yet keep the TDS and pH that low. You might try to see which values are the most critical and aim for that.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-31-2014, 04:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I suppose the TDS wont be as critical especially if I know exactly what is comprising it (it might be high, but at least I know its not because of waste).

Thank you for the clarification on the plant hardness.

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