Ditching aquasoil's buffering capacity? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Ditching aquasoil's buffering capacity?

I have Amazonia light in my new tank. I didn't thoroughly plan ahead with regards to substrate, I just bought what I thought looked nice and would grow plants.

I do not have an RO system and I don't intend on getting one, the waste bugs me living in Arizona.

I understand that since my tap is 7/7 GH/KH and the AS buffers it down to 3/0 that I will soon run out of the buffering capability of the soil.

My question is if this is an inherently bad thing? I plan on keeping some Mexican swordtails as my feature fish and they like hard water (or at least that's my understanding). I'm also not super versed on water chemistry but I've read that having a higher KH buffers the PH to keep it stable. The PH will certainly be higher than with AS but it should still be stable once it levels out.

So my thought process is that I can have the fertilizer of AS, the KH to buffer my 7.5ish tap water PH and the GH that my chosen fish like.

Am I out of line somewhere along the way?


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by forrestcook View Post
I have Amazonia light in my new tank. I didn't thoroughly plan ahead with regards to substrate, I just bought what I thought looked nice and would grow plants.

I do not have an RO system and I don't intend on getting one, the waste bugs me living in Arizona.

I understand that since my tap is 7/7 GH/KH and the AS buffers it down to 3/0 that I will soon run out of the buffering capability of the soil.

My question is if this is an inherently bad thing? I plan on keeping some Mexican swordtails as my feature fish and they like hard water (or at least that's my understanding). I'm also not super versed on water chemistry but I've read that having a higher KH buffers the PH to keep it stable. The PH will certainly be higher than with AS but it should still be stable once it levels out.

So my thought process is that I can have the fertilizer of AS, the KH to buffer my 7.5ish tap water PH and the GH that my chosen fish like.

Am I out of line somewhere along the way?


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As far as I can tell you are right on. I honestly do not know how good the buffering capacity of this product is as I have not used it myself. It will reduce your KH and GH as you said. Using tapwater with it for a prolonged amount of time, or adding something to raise the KH will eventually exhaust its capacity to remove KH/GH. I'm sure how long this takes is variable and dependent on more than a couple variables. Eventually you should be able to raise your KH (which will also raise your pH up until a certain point) and maintain it there. Same with GH.

One thing I think is worth mentioning... If you are going to take on the buffering capacity directly and try to keep adding something like baking soda to increase the KH over some extended amount of time... you need to be very careful. I believe this will cause a buildup of Sodium ions and will probably increase your waters TDS. I am not a chemist but I am pretty sure this is true. So if you are looking to rid the soil of its buffering capacity with this method, do it with water changes so you don't hurt your livestock. Alternatively you can raise GH and KH at the same time with calcium carbonate.

I am really curious is the 3/0 you are referencing your own experience or some data you found?

I hope this was helpful
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 08:17 PM
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The above is tremendous information. A good way to keep the kH and gH up is to add crushed coral to your filter. Use a media bag as you'll likely need to replenish it frequently until the Amazonia is full, like monthly would be my estimate. It should also help to stabilize your pH in the interim. The nutrients in the soil will remain unhindered for plants even once Amazonias buffering capacity is depleted. The crushed coral will eventually begin to raise your pH a bit so make it part of your regular maintenance to check it. Although with sword tails the higher pH, kH and gH aren't necessarily a concern as the rise will be gradual.

Keep in mind that Amazonia will release Ammonia for a few weeks so although perfect for cycling a tank without fish it is something you want to keep in mind as adding fish immediately would be potentially disastrous for them.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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No livestock until it's cycled, I'm clear on that! The 3/0 is by experience with what happened in my 9 gallon tank with the same soil and tap water. The ratio of AS to water is different but I'm expecting similar results. I have the various seachem additive powders but I haven't cracked them open yet, I was hoping water changes would ease me into it.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 09:05 PM
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No livestock until it's cycled, I'm clear on that! The 3/0 is by experience with what happened in my 9 gallon tank with the same soil and tap water. The ratio of AS to water is different but I'm expecting similar results. I have the various seachem additive powders but I haven't cracked them open yet, I was hoping water changes would ease me into it.


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For the powders are you referring to equilbrium (for GH), Alkaline buffer (for KH) and Acid buffer (reduce PH)?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 11:35 PM
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Yeah you can dose those two moderately, let everything come to equilibrium, no pun intended, and water change, repeat until it seems that your substrate is no longer stripping your KH/GH.
Once again I have no idea how long this might take maybe someone more familiar with the substrate can chime in.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 07:44 AM
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For the powders are you referring to equilbrium (for GH), Alkaline buffer (for KH) and Acid buffer (reduce PH)?
Does the sodium build up you have mentioned also occur with equilibrium and alkaline buffer usage?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 11:28 AM
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Does the sodium build up you have mentioned also occur with equilibrium and alkaline buffer usage?
Alkaline buffer is also a sodium bicarbonate buffer according to seachems FAQ. Sodium buildup would only be a problem if you are continually using the alkaline buffer without water changes. Alkaline buffer is not designed to be used this way. It is designed to be used basically once at first to set the kh in combination with their acid buffer to fine tune the ph. After that it should only be used with partial water changes to adjust the new water going in.

Same with seachems equilibrium. I'm not sure the exact compounds they are using in that product but it works the same way. Adjust GH once, and then only mess with it at water changes. I will say this though: Equilibrium is more than just a GH booster. It is used for remineralization and contains a decent amount of potassium. If you were adding a lot of this stuff you could get a buildup of potassium. If you are looking to only adjust your GH you need to only add Calcium and magnesium, probably in the form of calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate.

I hope it is apparent that if you were adding a ton of these together that at the simplest level you can see chloride ions from the CaCl and sodium ion from the NaHCO3 could form NaCl essentially as if you were adding aquarium salt. I guess what I am saying is always add the smallest amounts of anything that you need to add, and this will keep your TDS, salinity, and sulfate levels low.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 04:24 PM
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Alkaline buffer is also a sodium bicarbonate buffer according to seachems FAQ. Sodium buildup would only be a problem if you are continually using the alkaline buffer without water changes. Alkaline buffer is not designed to be used this way. It is designed to be used basically once at first to set the kh in combination with their acid buffer to fine tune the ph. After that it should only be used with partial water changes to adjust the new water going in.

Same with seachems equilibrium. I'm not sure the exact compounds they are using in that product but it works the same way. Adjust GH once, and then only mess with it at water changes. I will say this though: Equilibrium is more than just a GH booster. It is used for remineralization and contains a decent amount of potassium. If you were adding a lot of this stuff you could get a buildup of potassium. If you are looking to only adjust your GH you need to only add Calcium and magnesium, probably in the form of calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate.

I hope it is apparent that if you were adding a ton of these together that at the simplest level you can see chloride ions from the CaCl and sodium ion from the NaHCO3 could form NaCl essentially as if you were adding aquarium salt. I guess what I am saying is always add the smallest amounts of anything that you need to add, and this will keep your TDS, salinity, and sulfate levels low.
I hope it doesn't seem that I am stealing away this thread, I only wrote these here instead of a private message because these seem very related to the subject at hand. I also will be using Amazonia with RO on my new 60P tank. I am deciding on the hardscape at the moment playing with branchwood

I am planing on adding Seachem Alkanline Buffer for KH ( the green labeled one from their plant series not the fresh series one ) and Seachem Replenish for GH. They claim the Replenish has calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride and potassium chloride but from what I read they don't have much potassium in this one. I plan to add them to RO so that I reach 5.6dGH and 5.6dKH ( only at water changes to the ingoing water and at the initial start ). It is going to be a heavily planted jungle scape therefore I want to control the potassium myself. What do you think?
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 05:27 PM
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I hope it doesn't seem that I am stealing away this thread, I only wrote these here instead of a private message because these seem very related to the subject at hand. I also will be using Amazonia with RO on my new 60P tank. I am deciding on the hardscape at the moment playing with branchwood

I am planing on adding Seachem Alkanline Buffer for KH ( the green labeled one from their plant series not the fresh series one ) and Seachem Replenish for GH. They claim the Replenish has calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride and potassium chloride but from what I read they don't have much potassium in this one. I plan to add them to RO so that I reach 5.6dGH and 5.6dKH ( only at water changes to the ingoing water and at the initial start ). It is going to be a heavily planted jungle scape therefore I want to control the potassium myself. What do you think?
I see where you are coming from here. I didn't mean to make the potassium in equilibrium sound bad, because its not. I was just trying to point out that excessive use of these products in between water changes could lead to a buildup of minerals and ions etc.

In your situation equilibrium would actually be better suited to your needs, especially since you are starting from RO which has basically been stripped of everything. The potassium in equilibrium will bring you up to a "baseline" so to speak and then you fine tune your levels and replace what plants are using up with your ferts. (I'm not positive on this but once you get your GH to where you want it with equilibrium you will probably find that the potassium level is still under whatever your target is.)

Replenish could do the job as well, but the reason it isn't marketed for plants is because it contains a high amount of chlorides and sodium (notice all the compounds you list are chloride compounds). Some plants are sensitive to these in excess.

So in summary: Use equilibrium and you will still have control of how much of the nutrients are going into the water. On the other hand if you want to just tweak your GH in between water changes with minimal effect on other parameters use Calcium sulfate (or Calcium chloride) with magnesium sulfate (epsom salt).
I hope that clarified things.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 05:41 PM
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I see where you are coming from here. I didn't mean to make the potassium in equilibrium sound bad, because its not. I was just trying to point out that excessive use of these products in between water changes could lead to a buildup of minerals and ions etc.

In your situation equilibrium would actually be better suited to your needs, especially since you are starting from RO which has basically been stripped of everything. The potassium in equilibrium will bring you up to a "baseline" so to speak and then you fine tune your levels and replace what plants are using up with your ferts. (I'm not positive on this but once you get your GH to where you want it with equilibrium you will probably find that the potassium level is still under whatever your target is.)

Replenish could do the job as well, but the reason it isn't marketed for plants is because it contains a high amount of chlorides and sodium (notice all the compounds you list are chloride compounds). Some plants are sensitive to these in excess.

So in summary: Use equilibrium and you will still have control of how much of the nutrients are going into the water. On the other hand if you want to just tweak your GH in between water changes with minimal effect on other parameters use Calcium sulfate (or Calcium chloride) with magnesium sulfate (epsom salt).
I hope that clarified things.
Thank you for clarifying a very important difference between equilibrium and replenish. I will be using equilibrium then. I only have one concern left. Equilibrium has no chloride's at all. Would this make a chloride deficiency?
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