How does ADA Aquasoil work? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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How does ADA Aquasoil work?

I have some queries on ADA Aquasoil, which I'm hoping to clarify.

First off, my water from tap:
pH 7.2
KH 1.5 to 2
GH 2.5
Tds 76-82

Questions:
1) how does aquasoil buffer pH down to its advertised levels 6.4?
2) if it softens water, will it drop my tap water KH to 0?
3) if it drops my tap KH to 0, won't plants not like this? Also, for shrimp which prefer KH 1-3, assuming I have to replenish with kh/gh booster?
4) if I add Kh/gh booster, won't the soil just remove that as well?
5) if aquasoil softens water and drops my KH to 0, won't there be a big pH swing when injecting co2?
6) does aquasoil affect GH at all?
7) I understand aquasoil was intended for Japanese water which has high KH and GH, but for my water parameters as above, is it necessary to go down the ro/di route to "prolong" the buffering capacity of the aquasoil before i have to change it out for new aquasoil?

Apologies if my concepts / thoughts are all wrong. Please correct as necessary. Have tried reading this up on many forums and websites but I cant get a consistent answer.

Essentially I'm setting up a new tank with aquasoil. Intending to keep shrimp and some microfish. I have injected co2.

Any help would be much appreciated. I can purchase an ro/di system if need be.

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 01:19 PM
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Maybe I can offer some insight here by answering your questions:

1) By binding carbonates/bicarbonates and releasing of humic acids
2) Yes, if your KH is low to begin with, it will lower KH to undetectable levels until substrate is finally exhausted
3) Depends on plants and shrimp. Some shrimp prefer a KH of 0 (some caridina species). Most plants will do better with a little KH in the water but some species will thrive regardless.
4) A GH/KH booster will help raise KH but yes, it will need to be added each water change to keep levels at desired range (assuming weekly WCs)
5) I've never experienced any huge pH swings and have used CO2 with 0 KH. It does take a lot more CO2 to achieve a 1 point drop in pH with such water conditions but pH stayed stable... due to substrate.
6) It can at first, at least slightly. It doesn't take very long for GH levels to stabilize though.
7) Depends on what your goal is. If it's just growing some healthy plants and keeping livestock that doesn't require soft water, then RO/DI water isn't necessary at all. If keeping rare ornamental shrimp, then yes, the use of RO/DI is strongly recommended.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 01:54 PM
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Good info from madcrafted.
To add on to #3, most of the plants you'll run into will do great in a 0 dKH, I wouldn't worry about that at all. Take a look at the vast array of ADA's tanks - they have beautiful, healthy plants in the ADA aquasoil. With shrimp, in keeping RCS, I've found stability is the key to keeping them alive, like most shrimp - KH in a non-buffered tank helps with this. In a buffered tank, KH for shrimp to thrive I don't believe will matter. I could be wrong there, but I was under the impression it's purely for stability. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
To add on to #7, using RODI water will prolong the buffering life of your substrate since it removes carbonates and zeros out KH. If you plan to use ADA aquasoil, you only need to add GH, adding in KH is counter productive/intuitive. Cheapest route to buffer GH is to purchase MgSO4.7H2O and CaSO4.2H2O and add to your water in a 3ppm:1ppm(Ca:Mg) ratio or 4ppm:1ppm. You want the hydrated salts so they don't absorb moisture from the air!

I run RODI, so if you have any questions regarding that, feel free to ask.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, madcrafted and mgeorges, for taking the time to reply!

Am in the midst of drystarting my tank. ADA 60p with hc cuba, utricularia graminifolia, eleocharis acicularis, althernata reineckii mini and hydrocotyle tripartita. Will be adding some moss and anubias petite here and there.

Thought I'd address some of the doubts and queries running through my mind and thank you guys for answering.

Since I have some time before flooding, I'll be reading up a bit more into ro/di. If i do go down that route, I may just end up remineralizing with salty shrimp gh+.
As yet, not decided what type of shrimp I'm going to stock it with..
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeorges View Post
In a buffered tank, KH for shrimp to thrive I don't believe will matter. I could be wrong there, but I was under the impression it's purely for stability. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Well according to many shrimp keeping resources, neocaridinas prefer a little carbonate in their water to achieve their ideal breeding parameters. However, I have seen reports of people keeping them in caridina parameters as well. I'm not sure what their fry survival rate is like, but it has been done. Not many breeders are going to keep neos in buffering substrate, though. It's just not necessary and it's expensive. Neos, as well as 99% of plants will thrive in inert substrates. I personally can't justify using any buffering substrates for anything other than caridina shrimp. I also don't mind dosing the water column with ferts from day one either, so it just depends on your goals there. If you want hands off feeding for the first 6 months to a year, then maybe ADA will suit you better. That's the only advantage I see for using this substrate for plants. Eventually you will need to buy ferts, unless you re-scape the same tank every time the substrate stops providing for the plants.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madcrafted View Post

1) By binding carbonates/bicarbonates and releasing of humic acids
2) Yes, if your KH is low to begin with, it will lower KH to undetectable levels until substrate is finally exhausted
recommended.
With regards to 1). If it binds carbonates/bicarbonates, how about in the situation with ro/di water with 0KH?

If ro/di water is pH 7 and it has no KH for the soil to absorb, then the drop in pH is accounted for just by the release of humic acids by the soil?

Assuming I use my tap water. And the soil lowers KH to 0. If i replenish some KH with KH booster so I can keep some shrimp which like a bit of KH, the soil will also then reduce the added KH to 0 as well eventually? Hence the necessity to add KH regularly. Is this correct?

Quote:
Originally Posted by madcrafted View Post


Well according to many shrimp keeping resources, neocaridinas prefer a little carbonate in their water to achieve their ideal breeding parameters. However, I have seen reports of people keeping them in caridina parameters as well. I'm not sure what their fry survival rate is like, but it has been done. Not many breeders are going to keep neos in buffering substrate, though. It's just not necessary and it's expensive. Neos, as well as 99% of plants will thrive in inert substrates. I personally can't justify using any buffering substrates for anything other than caridina shrimp. I also don't mind dosing the water column with ferts from day one either, so it just depends on your goals there. If you want hands off feeding for the first 6 months to a year, then maybe ADA will suit you better. That's the only advantage I see for using this substrate for plants. Eventually you will need to buy ferts, unless you re-scape the same tank every time the substrate stops providing for the plants.
Thanks for the advice! I am very open to the option of caridina shrimp. I have a few of them in my small 5g planted tank and they are doing quite well. They've not started breeding yet; only had them in a few weeks and maybe they're not comfortable in the (suboptimal) water parameters I have in that tank.

I do have a decent selection of ferts, both from the seachem range and nilocg (ei dosing bottles, fe, thrive+ and thriveS).

Wanted to try aquasoil after watching all the ADA videos on YouTube. My other choice was Tropica soil.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 07-20-2018 at 04:39 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roasty View Post
Thank you, madcrafted and mgeorges, for taking the time to reply!

Am in the midst of drystarting my tank. ADA 60p with hc cuba, utricularia graminifolia, eleocharis acicularis, althernata reineckii mini and hydrocotyle tripartita. Will be adding some moss and anubias petite here and there.

Thought I'd address some of the doubts and queries running through my mind and thank you guys for answering.

Since I have some time before flooding, I'll be reading up a bit more into ro/di. If i do go down that route, I may just end up remineralizing with salty shrimp gh+.
As yet, not decided what type of shrimp I'm going to stock it with..
Tank looks lovely. You should start a journal thread here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roasty View Post
With regards to 1). If it binds carbonates/bicarbonates, how about in the situation with ro/di water with 0KH?

If ro/di water is pH 7 and it has no KH for the soil to absorb, then the drop in pH is accounted for just by the release of humic acids by the soil?

Assuming I use my tap water. And the soil lowers KH to 0. If i replenish some KH with KH booster so I can keep some shrimp which like a bit of KH, the soil will also then reduce the added KH to 0 as well eventually? Hence the necessity to add KH regularly. Is this correct?
No carbonates to bind, the substrate still will buffer the water. I can't explain the function, I just know it does it. Lol. Madcrafted mentioned the humic acid, it could be a constant release regardless of the presence of carbonates.

Well...you would need to add KH regularly, but I think you're potentially setting yourself up for problems. Parameters will shift as the substrate takes in the carbonates, KH will drop, pH will drop, if you're injecting CO2 you could see a major shift in pH values/CO2 ppm. CO2 ppm measurements change based on the waters KH, so that's something to consider. I think you'd have to do a lot of testing to make sure that your KH is staying rather constant. I may be overthinking this, however. I tend to error on the side of extreme caution.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roasty View Post
With regards to 1). If it binds carbonates/bicarbonates, how about in the situation with ro/di water with 0KH?

If ro/di water is pH 7 and it has no KH for the soil to absorb, then the drop in pH is accounted for just by the release of humic acids by the soil?

Assuming I use my tap water. And the soil lowers KH to 0. If i replenish some KH with KH booster so I can keep some shrimp which like a bit of KH, the soil will also then reduce the added KH to 0 as well eventually? Hence the necessity to add KH regularly. Is this correct?
Yes, the humic acid itself will lower the pH, as with any acid. With no carbonates to buffer this, the drop could be considerably lower than a pH of 6. You can also use sodium or potassium bicarbonate (or both) to safely raise KH as needed. There's really no need to buy a special remineralizer or mineral booster for this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roasty View Post
Thanks for the advice! I am very open to the option of caridina shrimp. I have a few of them in my small 5g planted tank and they are doing quite well. They've not started breeding yet; only had them in a few weeks and maybe they're not comfortable in the (suboptimal) water parameters I have in that tank.

I do have a decent selection of ferts, both from the seachem range and nilocg (ei dosing bottles, fe, thrive+ and thriveS).

Wanted to try aquasoil after watching all the ADA videos on YouTube. My other choice was Tropica soil.
Growing plants and keeping caridina shrimp with enriched CO2 can be a bit of a juggling act. It's best to master growing plants in a high CO2 environment first before adding these expensive shrimp or it could be a costly lesson. The fluctuation in pH from the carbonic acid isn't something that these shrimp are fond of. It might not kill them directly but it can mean the difference between a healthy, breeding colony and shrimp that hide most of the time, refusing to breed. It's not a coincidence that most high tech tanks usually house cherry shrimps.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, both, for adding on.

I have about 3 to 5 weeks of dsm ahead of me. I've just ordered a 5 stage ro/di filter.

Will try out a few things in the meantime such as pure ro/di, and mixed with some tap water. Have purchased some salty shrimp stuff (kh/gh+ for my tank with inert gravel, and GH+ for my tank with the ADA aquasoil).

Will sort out the flooding, plants transition to submerged form, and fert dosing regimen for a few weeks before adding livestock.

Will add livestock once I've come to a "steady state" of the tank and stock accordingly to what I can achieve water parameter wise.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-23-2018, 07:26 PM
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@Roasty I would invest in something to remineralize your water vs mixing tap if you're keeping Caridina. Reason being - tap water can frequently vary, might have more of something any given week. This does not provide the guaranteed stability of doing it yourself. By purchasing some MgSO4 and CaSO4 and handling the GH yourself, you know exactly what's going into your water every single time. You can buy a pound of each from greenleafaquariums.com or nilocg.com for rather cheap, and they'll last you quite a long time.
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