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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ll start with my question then I’ll give the backup info. Can anybody give me advice on getting AquVitro AquaSolum Humate to give me a GH above 3°?

I was told it softens the water some, but I didn’t expect it to be such a pain in the backside! I’m not really looking for the “why do you even want it that high?” answers, which is mostly what I found from old posts about this substrate. (No offense intended here, but we don’t all want 1°GH and a pH of 6.0.)

My LFS talked me into using this substrate in my first “true” planted tank. I know it’s supposed to soften the water, but I can’t get a GH to even read as high as 1°! This was pretty hard (actually soft) on my Nerite, who has nine lives I think, and now resides with my Betta in an aquarium with white sand substrate.

I’m using RO/DI with AquaVitro Mineralize and can’t get the GH up. I also can’t keep my KH up either. I am adding AquaVitro’s Mineralize and Carbonate daily. I can get the GH up to 5° snd the next day it’s back to 3°. I don’t think Viagra is going to help raise those parameters, so I started with Ian Sterling’s Fishlab advice on GH (https://fishlab.com/aquarium-gh/), whose advice helped a lot when I first got back into the hobby a few years ago, then I consulted my LFS again. The proposed solution was adding some Aragonite in a bag in the filter basket. I’ve done so, then increased the amount if Aragonite, but not had much luck yet and it’s not an exact science.

I want a nice planted tank, with corydoras and dwarf green neons. Those are already in there, but the neons seem stressed. The nitrogen cycle is well established; I have 0 ppm on ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. I’ve started CO2, but the GH battle was long enjoined before I started the CO2. I’m not a hapoy camper now and am considering dismantling the whole thing and using Flourite and root tabs.
 

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Any updates?

I use RO/DI water with AquaVitro Shrimp GH and Seachem Equilibrium for GH along with Seachem alkaline buffer for KH in my nursery and grow tanks. My tank doesn't have an issue holding GH or KH at 2°KH and 5°GH with the Aquasolum Humate substrate.

Still unsure if I like the Aquasolum Humate substrate better than Fluval Stratum but the plants like it more than eco complete or any other inert substrate, so I wouldn't rush off to Flourite just yet. (I do like the Flourite Dark for color better than Aquasolum or Stratum's brown though)

FWIW - I have Eco Complete/Flourite in a nice show tank and I do struggle with high PH issues sometimes, and I wish I had used a proper buffering substrate for planted tanks like ADA's Amazonia or Stratum
 

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You shouldn't fight the substrate. If you want to have better control over your GH you should use an inert substrate. ADA used to sell a hard water soil called Africana but I think it is hard to come by or even discontinued. Anyways, eventually the absorptive properties of the soil will be depleted. You just need to keep using it. There is no rush as the soil is literally baked and pelletized humic acid so it will take a while. I think there is also no great advantage of pushing GH past 2-3 except in niche uses. And of course people will ask "why". The luxury of these soils is their buffering capacity and nutrition so people will wonder why you are using it if you don't want to use the product as intended. And if your needs are not met by the soil we can help you find a better fit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You shouldn't fight the substrate. If you want to have better control over your GH you should use an inert substrate. ADA used to sell a hard water soil called Africana but I think it is hard to come by or even discontinued.
I think my LFS has had very little experience with this substrate. They represented it as having a mild effect on the GH. While my corydoras and my neon don’t seem yo mind, Nerites and shrimp have not fared well with very low GH in my past experience. But, I have found that Equilibrium does a far better job of holding the GH up for longer than the AquaVitro Mineralize. So, since the plants are really digging into the AquaSolum now that I’ve started CO2, I think I can work with it.
Thank you for taking the time to answer and for your advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your reply, and yes, I do have updates.

I was using AquaVitro’s Mineralize for GH, but I had finally decided to try using Equilibrium, which I already had on hand. That worked so much better than the Mineralize, with GH remaining more stable. I still have to watch it, but now I can keep 4.5-5° GH without checking/adjusting twice daily. I also tried using Alkaline Buffer Again as well.

I did find out why it is important to read all of the fine print on labels. The Equilibrium label says on the front that it remineralizes and Increases GH. On the back of the label, it says ”to maintain KH, we recommend Alkaline Buffer.” So, I added the amount of Equilibrium to my RO/DI, then thought to take the pH before adding Alkaline Buffer. Good thing because the pH was much higher than expected. Looked back at the Equilibrium label, finally figuring I should read the ingredients. Soluble Potash being the first ingredient, I guess that’s why the pH was up. Sure am glad I measured pH before dumping in the amount I would have when I was using Mineralize only to raise GH. And before I dumped it into my aquarium after the water change.

So, while I had tried the Equilibrium before I saw your reply (I was having trouble big time with the older s/w platform on Planted Tank), your reply makes me believe I am on the right track. And, the plants do like it, so I guess I’ll stick with it. I do like the color and am happy with the look.
 
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