What do my readings mean? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-09-2014, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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What do my readings mean?

I am not too familiar with ph/gh/kh parameters and how they affect plants, so could someone take a look at what I have and let me know if they need any changing? Or if they make any sense at all? XD I do use a water softener, not sure if that has an effect on anything at all though...

pH - 8.4
dKH - 9
GH - between 35.8 and 53.7 ppm
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 12:40 AM
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KH is carbonate hardness, buffering capacity or alkalinity. KH is the measure of the amount of buffering minerals in your water, which are mostly carbonates, that resist acidification of the water. The higher the KH the more resistant your water will be to PH changes. In my CO2 injected tanks I always keep the water at least 4dkh so the ph doesn't crash. 9dkh pretty much means your ph is going to stay around 8.4, if you were to remove some KH from the water say with reverse osmosis water your ph would drop. The GH or general hardness has nothing to do with the KH or PH. General hardness is the measure of calcium and magnesium in the water. What your water softener is doing is removing those minerals from your water source, which is why your GH is low. Fish and plants need a certain amount of GH in the water to grow and be happy, it really depends on what you want to keep. I personally would either stop using the water softener or raise my GH with a GH booster. Like I said it really depends on what your trying to keep in your tank. One piece of advice I can give is don't fight the water it always wins!!!!!!!!!

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your response! Would you recommend investing in a RO/DI unit? I am eventually looking to keep shrimp (most likely caridina) and some different hairgrasses.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 02:28 AM
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I like using RO/DI units because it is essentially starting out with a clean slate, and you can come up with a regimen for reconstituting the water to match your specific needs based on your goals for the tank. It does make things more complicated to a certain degree, but if you have a basic understanding of general chemistry, and don't mind the initial period of determining a consistent regimen of additives to add to your water, it really is rewarding. I use a 32 gallon brute trash can as a water storage container, and always add the same amount of akaline/acid buffers, as well as GH boosters and appropriate minerals.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
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It does sound a little complicated, but I'm sure I can handle it... maybe XD
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 06:09 AM
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If you did not get a reverse osmosis filter, then the GH (before softener) and KH would pretty much control what livestock you could keep. Hard water animals generally also thrive in high pH, and I assume the GH of your source water (ie: tap water before the softener) is pretty high.
Limits you to hard water animals, or animals that have been bred in captivity so long they can handle harder water than their ancestors.

If you get a RO unit, put it after the softener. Check with the manufacturer, but most RO units do not do so well with high calcium. Better to have lower calcium, and have the unit remove the sodium. The membrane lasts longer.

The resulting water, from the RO unit will highly likely be too soft for plants or fish.
To keep the soft water fish add small doses of GH booster until the water is the right GH for the livestock you want to keep. Then add carbonate or bicarbonate (such as baking soda or potassium bicarbonate) to make the KH pretty close to the GH.
If the fish you want to keep come from black water rivers add peat moss to the prep can to add the organic acids to the water.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!
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