What do you use to raise KH, Sodium Bicarbonate(baking soda) or Potassium Bicarbonate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-24-2007, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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What do you use to raise KH, Sodium Bicarbonate(baking soda) or Potassium Bicarbonate

Many sources state that potassium bicarbonate is better because the plants need potassium, but not sodium. Some sources will go as far as to say that sodium bicarbonate is harmful to the planted aquarium.

But it seems to me that using potassium bicarbonate to provide KH in RO water is not without its own problems. When combined with the large addition of potassium contributed by GH boosters, and in some cases plant fertilizers, it becomes VERY important that we suppliment nitrate without adding additional potassium (i.e. no potassium nitrate). I say this because when potassium is dosed into the aquarium at much higher percentages than calcium and magnesium, the uptake of those later two nutrients becomes inhibited. Sure I could just raise the GH more with a homebrew GH booster that does not contain potassium, but I would rather not for the purposes of breeding soft water fish. I would greatly prefer to simply use calcium nitrate and magnesium nitrate to dose the nitrogen and balance the large amount of potassium added through the potassium bicarbonate buffer and GH booster.

Pure Calcium Nitrate and Magnesium Nitrate, are difficult to obtain, however. Both are powerful oxidizers that can be used to create explosives, and therefore the added liability to merchants who would choose to sell and ship the them is usually not worth the risk. Less pure versions sold as calcium nitrate fertilizer are almost always NOT pure calcium nitrate. They are instead blended with ammonium nitrate. This form is characterized by a 15.5-0-0 +64%Ca forumuation and a molecular formula of 5Ca(NO3)2.NH4NO3.10H2O. The pure calcium nitrate formulation without ammonium nitrate is much harder to find, and is denoted by: Ca(NO3)2.3H2O (12.8-0-0 + 18.3%Ca). Now why is this so important to know? Because Tom Barr in his article about the EI method states that ammonium is the one nutrient which can spur rampant algae growth. So it sure would be nice to find pure calcium nitrate and magnesium nitrate fertilizer. With these we would be better able to avoid the potasium/calcium/magnesium imbalance and reduce the need to add magnesium and calcium sulfates. Sulfates certainly should be present in some amount in the aquarium, but in excess can create bad smells (via hydrogen sulfide gas).

So, how many of you use potassium bicarbonate in the first place, and if so, do you agree that using magnesium and calcium nitrate to suppliment nitrogen would be an improvement over using potassium nitrate? I am interested to hear your opinions!

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-24-2007, 05:35 PM
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I use sodium bicarbonate because it's easily available.....whether or not the extra sodium leads to problems with plants, I haven't seen it myself.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-24-2007, 05:59 PM
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Excess potassium doesn't interfere with calcium or magnesium. Tom Barr shot that one down a while back.

And the sodium in sodium bicarbonate doesn't harm plants.

Also sulfates alone do not produce hydrogen sulfide gas.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-24-2007, 07:17 PM
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And you do not need to adjust/add Kh for RO water---just use 100% RO.


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-25-2007, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Rex, there are limits everything, and I can assure you it is a well known agricultural fact that, at least terrestrial soils, magnesium and calcium availability can be affected by potassium overfertilization. I have personally witnessed magnesium defficiency on some of my palm trees after fertilizing heavily with a high-potassium granular fertilizer.

The same goes for the use of sodium bicarbonate. Theoretically, there must be some KH level (I'm guessing 10-14 deg KH) where the sodium in the sodium bicarbonate would begin affecting the plants. But I believe you that at the most commonly used planted aquarium KH levels (3-8 deg KH), it is almost certainly not harmful. I'm probably going to start using a half/half mix of sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate to add KH.

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Originally Posted by Naja002 View Post
And you do not need to adjust/add Kh for RO water---just use 100% RO.
Naja, I hope you are suggesting using pure RO water only to top off for evaporation? Do you understand how wildly the pH can swing in an aquarium with no buffering capacity (KH)? Even if you could somehow maintain a stable pH, I'm pretty sure most plants prefer to have at least a few degrees of KH!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-25-2007, 02:11 AM
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Terrestrial plants are different than aquatic plants. I suggest you not try and apply terrestrial traits to aquatic plants.

And note your own statement.

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fertilizing heavily with a high-potassium granular fertilizer
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-25-2007, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan, Monroe, LA View Post
Naja, I hope you are suggesting using pure RO water only to top off for evaporation? Do you understand how wildly the pH can swing in an aquarium with no buffering capacity (KH)? Even if you could somehow maintain a stable pH, I'm pretty sure most plants prefer to have at least a few degrees of KH!
I am suggesting 100% RO. Top-off and otherwise. The pH swing and lack of stability is an old school myth. I used 100% RODI when I was running my unit, and I learned from others:

Low or no KH and low PH without a "crash"??

Low KH and pH crash

pH = 5.5, what now?

Excellent results......


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-25-2007, 08:03 AM
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Man, you guys and your soft water. Wish I had soft water.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-25-2007, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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well,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naja002;The pH swing and lack of stability is an old school myth. I used 100% RODI when I was running my unit, and I learned from others:

[URL="https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/general-planted-tank-discussion/32365-low-no-kh-low-ph-without.html?highlight=crash"
Low or no KH and low PH without a "crash"??[/URL]

Low KH and pH crash

pH = 5.5, what now?

Excellent results......
The lesser pH stabilty associated with lower kH isn't a myth, it's a FACT of chemistry. Does that mean a hobbiest can't use low or no KH water and still be successful? Heck no. What it does say is that there is a lesser margin for error. In a tank with a high KH, you might be able to get away with a high fishload and no water changes for years, but in a tank with low KH, you might only be able to get away with such neglect for a few months. Now if you are a good aquarist, you'll probably never need to worry about such things.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-25-2007, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryan, Monroe, LA View Post
Now if you are a good aquarist, you'll probably never need to worry about such things.

Well, let us know when you reach that point......


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