Replacing buffering substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-26-2018, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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Replacing buffering substrate?

Hello,

I’m currently using controsoil in my tank and I’ve read that over time it loses its buffering capabilities, even faster if you’re using tap water (which I am). So it makes sense to replace the soil after a while, but the problem I have is that I have a carpet going on. Is it possible to replace soil under a carpet or am I just out of luck there? Thanks!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-26-2018, 10:19 AM
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In short yes, with a number of caveats. If by buffering you mean lowering pH and keeping it within a range, then test your tap to guestimate whether the buffering will ehxaust in 3 months or 3 years. With soil-based substrates, 6 months is a safe minimum.

Whether you need that buffering property in a mature tank is debatable. The nature of the planted tanks is that they become more acidic over time, due to decaying matter like driftwood and accumulation of organics and common use of injected co2. Another point to keep in mind that common fish handles pH swings on a daily basis.

In so many words, don't sweat it too much. Most likely, you will not even notice if the substrate runs out of "buffering". Watch your tank like you always do, check your pH and kH once in a while, and your plants will let you know if and when the parameters swing too much.

The next consideration is what your carpetting plant is. If it happens to be HC, then a mature carpet is like a grass sod: you can relatively easily lift it up in large chunks. Trim it, lift it up, swap substrate, put it down, weight it down, wait for it root again.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-26-2018, 11:40 AM
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Iím buffering in a different direction. I use dolomite gravel to stabilize pH in my high tech tank. Before photo period, the pH is around 7.6. CO2 injection during photo period brings down pH to 6.6. pH rebounds back to 7.6 overnight. pH up buffering lasts for as long as the buffering media is visible and has not dissolved away, and in my case can last 100 years. PH down buffer, on the other hand, can be exhausted in months with no visible sign and you have to test to find out. Most soft water fish and plants adapt well to hard water and there is no need to buffer down. The only reason you want to buffer down is if you want to breed sensitive soft water fish or shrimp, which fail to fertilize eggs in hard water. Practitioners place acid buffer in baskets so they can easily replace every few months when it is exhausted.

If you have carpet plants like hair grass, blyxa or Sagittarius that have deep root system, I donít think you have a choice but to uproot them to replant if you want to replace the substrate.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-27-2018, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OVT View Post
In short yes, with a number of caveats. If by buffering you mean lowering pH and keeping it within a range, then test your tap to guestimate whether the buffering will ehxaust in 3 months or 3 years. With soil-based substrates, 6 months is a safe minimum.

Whether you need that buffering property in a mature tank is debatable. The nature of the planted tanks is that they become more acidic over time, due to decaying matter like driftwood and accumulation of organics and common use of injected co2. Another point to keep in mind that common fish handles pH swings on a daily basis.

In so many words, don't sweat it too much. Most likely, you will not even notice if the substrate runs out of "buffering". Watch your tank like you always do, check your pH and kH once in a while, and your plants will let you know if and when the parameters swing too much.

The next consideration is what your carpetting plant is. If it happens to be HC, then a mature carpet is like a grass sod: you can relatively easily lift it up in large chunks. Trim it, lift it up, swap substrate, put it down, weight it down, wait for it root again.
Yes, I meant buffering pH. What do I need to test in my tap to figure out how long the substrate will last? And also, once the buffering capacity is lost, does that also mean the nutrients in the soil are also used up? Or are they two separate components? Although it is nice to know that planted tanks become more acidic overtime because my tap has a pH of 8.4 and I was trying to figure out ways to lower it.

The controsoil quickly takes the pH down to about 7.0 so I run into a bit of an issue with water changes as the pH swings a lot in a short period of time. I don't have livestock yet so I'm trying to find a balance during water changes before I add any fish/inverts.

Also, my carpeting plant is monte carlo, but I can see how that might work! Thanks a bunch for the helpful info

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Originally Posted by Tiger15 View Post
Iím buffering in a different direction. I use dolomite gravel to stabilize pH in my high tech tank. Before photo period, the pH is around 7.6. CO2 injection during photo period brings down pH to 6.6. pH rebounds back to 7.6 overnight. pH up buffering lasts for as long as the buffering media is visible and has not dissolved away, and in my case can last 100 years. PH down buffer, on the other hand, can be exhausted in months with no visible sign and you have to test to find out. Most soft water fish and plants adapt well to hard water and there is no need to buffer down. The only reason you want to buffer down is if you want to breed sensitive soft water fish or shrimp, which fail to fertilize eggs in hard water. Practitioners place acid buffer in baskets so they can easily replace every few months when it is exhausted.

If you have carpet plants like hair grass, blyxa or Sagittarius that have deep root system, I donít think you have a choice but to uproot them to replant if you want to replace the substrate.
Wow, that's really cool to hear but thank you for the advice! I'm hoping that my livestock will adapt to my super hard water because my tap definitely isnt pretty :/ I actually didn't know how drastically controsoil would buffer my pH when I first bought it, so while it does help my tap water a lot, I'm just worried for when it exhausts and I'm left with just my straight tap.

Well, I really love the look of some of the sensitive caridina shrimp species but considering my water parameters and such, there's no way I can put them in my tank But the baskets of acid buffer is a great idea! Perhaps I'll look into that once my controsoil starts losing its powers Thanks!
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