Ph/kh/alk - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-18-2015, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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Ph/kh/alk

Hello there,

Fairly new to intensely planted tanks. Had some early moderate success and am stalling a bit. This caused me to start testing my water. I have a 29 gal tank with a few SA Cichlids and some tetras. I can do easy keeper plants like hygro and bacopa and chain sword. I have also had plants melt to almost nothing in days: rotala, ambulia. Light is via 3-13 w cfl. Ph is somewhere between 8.5 and 9, gh is between 4 and 8, alk is off the chart at over 300 ppm on the test strips and 45 on the nutrition test kit. I bought the kits to verify the strips because the numbers seemed so odd to me. I dose excel daily and alternate flourish and flourish with iron weekly with wc. No co2 but have the stuff on hand for the pop bottle setup.

I've tried searching the forum but my parameters seem...unique. I know something is off the way some plants just melt but am not sure where to start. Would appreciate any input in layman's terms. TIA.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-19-2015, 02:03 AM
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NO3 levels might be of concern.


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-19-2015, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrates are below 20 but above zero good according to the test strips. Is such a high ph of concern or do most things adapt? If I'm reading right with the high alkalinity I am going to have a hard time lowering it if necessary. RO is not an option at this time. This rank has been set up a very long time, has weekly to bw water changes a hob filter and what I would consider a pretty light fish load. My focus is on growing plants and want to make sure parameters are ok before starting DIY co2. Thx.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-19-2015, 04:39 PM
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I don't know that I can help, but can start some discussion that might lead somewhere.
You do have an unusually high pH, but obviously your plants and fish (even SA ones that prefer acidic water) have adapted.
You are correct; having a high kH prevents you from easily lowering the pH. RO would dilute it down, but you don't want to use it. Another technique is to use an "acid buffer". This can (and will) lower your pH, but you need to keep mixing it every time you do a water change.
My best guess to melting is the shock to the new plant. It probably grew, and is packaged in water with much different parameters (including lower ph, kH and gH). It may be possible to acclimatize the new plant to your conditions prior to planting (like you would a fish for example)? This may be worth a try?
In summary I think your parameters are 'acceptable' simply because they are working for your current plants/fish. You could try to acclimatize new plants before attempting to plant to prevent melting. And if you want to lower your pH and keep it lowered, you could look into an acid buffer (which requires careful application and continued use) and IMO would be a last resort.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-19-2015, 04:52 PM
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300ppm is about dKH=17, whic is consistent with your quite high ph of 8.5-9 (well, more consistent with about 8.3). Not sure what the 45 is, is that in ppm? That's a radically different number (about 2.5) and not at all consistent with the ph so high.

Without CO2, with decent aeration and absent other weird chemistry, KH and PH are related - higher KH, higher PH. CO2 dissolves in water to about 3ppm (+/-) and reaches equilibrium - more KH, more CO2 is reacting with the carbonates, less free Hydrogen ions = less acidic.

I'm not exactly sure what aspect of it you find "unique", so cannot comment there.

If your concern is the high ph, lower the kh. If this is your tap water, to lower that substantially consider switching to RO water -- that's too high to modify by adding stuff, in fact in general reducing PH by adding stuff is usually an exercise in frustration, the "right" way is to remove the KH, then the PH falls.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-19-2015, 11:55 PM
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Brand new water softener resin can be used in a bag like Purigen.
You will need to monitor TDS daily, when satisfied remove the resin bag.
This resin will always be wasted since brine regeneration will introduce salts.
I think API makes a water softener pillow that provides same results.
I don't know if this product can be regenerated.

I hope this helps.


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-20-2015, 12:20 AM
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If you decide to use a water softening bag as suggested by Maryland Guppy, use it to prep the water before adding it to the tank.
Do the change over slowly so the fish can adjust. Drop the KH a degree or two with each water change until it is where you want it.

If you then did a water change with straight tap water the parameters in the aquarium would skyrocket, and the fish would not do well.
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