Newbie needs help with KH Buffer - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 05:09 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie needs help with KH Buffer

I am brand new to the exciting world of true planted tanks. Have had a few live plants before, but have never paid them much mind or had a ton of success. Now I have a bit over 3 watts per gallon, a CO2 injector and about $100 of plants of various heights. Should be a good adventure.

When I started, my KH was 3 degrees. I added one dose of Seachem Alkaline Buffer (2 teaspoons for my 20 Gallon tank), which raised my KH to 9 degrees. I then started injecting CO2 and was using the PH/KH grids to determine how much CO2 I have in my tank.

As I read more, I am beginning to wonder if adding the buffer has made those grids inaccurate. If it has, and adding the buffer was a stupid idea, I have a couple of questions. 1) how do I know what my CO2 level is now? 2) how should I have increased my KH? 3) are there long term problems for my tank that having added the Alkaline Buffer will create? 4) If so, how do I fix my mistake?

FWIW, my new plants are doing great (no fish yet). Lots of new growth, significant pearling, and no algae after almost a week (I know that's not very long). Once I stabilize my PH (it's still swinging from 6.8 to 7.2 or 7.4), I'll get some goldfish to cycle the tank.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 05:33 AM
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Ok first, you nullified the charts by adding any buffer. They aren't very accurate to begin with anyway, so don't feel bad. A better way to determine the amount of co2 in your tank is to purchase a drop checker. Make sure you use 4dkH water with it, regardless of what the instructions say. It turns into a fancy pH meter without it.

Second, a kH of 3 is just peachy. I'm currently injecting a crap ton of pressurized co2 into my tank with a kH of 2 without issues.

Adding a chemical buffer is, generally speaking, a bad idea. Baking soda is much cheaper and will buffer the water more "naturally". But you really shouldn't have an issue with a kH of 3. You can easily remove the buffers by doing a couple large (50% +) water changes. Nothing should be harmed long term.

Don't worry about pH swings caused by co2. They won't hurt your fish. pH isn't as important as once thought. KH and GH are swings are much more dangerous to your fish than pH.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captivate05 View Post
A better way to determine the amount of co2 in your tank is to purchase a drop checker.
Can you please recommend a brand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captivate05 View Post
Make sure you use 4dkH water with it, regardless of what the instructions say.
This is Greek to me. Can you please explain?

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Originally Posted by Captivate05 View Post
You can easily remove the buffers by doing a couple large (50% +) water changes. Nothing should be harmed long term.
I'm guessing I need to do this? Would rather not bother and wanted to get fish soon, but willing to delay if necessary.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 06:33 AM
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All drop checkers work on the same principle, so you can just get one that fancies you.

Regarding the 4 dkH water, please take a look at my guide to pressurized CO2 here.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/eq...d-share.html#7

Specifically, post seven explains what a drop checker is, how it works, and what you will require for it work correctly.

As mentioned, a kH of 3 is fine, so I would just do a large water change (or two). In addition, rather than using fish to cycle your aquarium, I would recommend you either use a fishless cycle (please use the search button to find information regarding this) and/or just plant extremely heavily from the start, and begin stocking lightly.

Anthony


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 03:25 PM
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^ What he said . I lived through his pressurized primer trying to set up my system. Very good info.

Water changes aren't going to hurt or set back anything for you. Just use a good water conditioner (like Prime or Amquel+) to detoxify chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, and heavy metals.

I missed the bit about cycling. I would strongly recommend not using fish to cycle as well. It's not very fair to the fish, hardy or not. I always crammed my tanks full of plants, specifically stems plants that are nitrogen hogs (like hornwort) and stocked slowly. Never had spikes, and the tank did cycle itself eventually without causing any harm or discomfort to the fish, even after slowly removing the nitrogen hogs. This "silent" is my favorite. I bought fish on payday every other week, it worked out really well.

If you want to stock your tank all at once, using household ammonia (one without solvents) is the way to go. Just add a certain amount of ammo daily and measure it. When the ammo and nitrites measure 0, you get some readings on nitrate, and it's stable, then you can do a large water change and fully stock fish.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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In addition, rather than using fish to cycle your aquarium, I would recommend you either use a fishless cycle (please use the search button to find information regarding this) and/or just plant extremely heavily from the start, and begin stocking lightly.
Just curious as to the advantages of a fishless cycle (I will use the search function for instructions on it). I normally feel a lot more comfortable starting a tank off with hearty and extraordinarily inexpensive goldfish than I do with my permanent residents.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 06:13 PM
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Just curious as to the advantages of a fishless cycle (I will use the search function for instructions on it). I normally feel a lot more comfortable starting a tank off with hearty and extraordinarily inexpensive goldfish than I do with my permanent residents.
Or you could just feed the fishless tank a few flakes of food each day for a few weeks.

I wouldn't pour household ammonia into my tank I can tell you that. I guess you could just pee into the tank once a day

But really, all you need to do is feed the tank a little bit and wait. If you think about it the goldfish can only digest the food and then poop/pee out a smaller percentage of that same food after having been processed by it's body. If you just feed the tank the food will still decay and create ammonia thus starting the cycle. The cheap fish part is pointless.

I've cycled several tanks without fish or even feding the tank. Just the substrait will cycle on it's own unless you use nothing but clean aquarium gravel and pure water.
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