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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello folks,

I was hoping for some advice on my water. It's hard as a brick and I want to lower the PH, but not totally sure how.

I have been trying to read here and online and there is just so much information.

So my water after it sits out or in the tank levels off around 8-8.2 PH. It's consistent, but seems too hard. I started noticing some plants are yellowing a bit and I think it has to do with the hard water. I dose with all-in-one Vital fertilizer and root tabs from H2O plants. I have an 18" Nicrew ClassicLED, 640 lumens and 11 watts. I just added a pressurized DIY CO2 system this weekend (hoping that helps).
I have been dosing ferts pretty much daily (may have missed a day occasionally) with a 50% water change every weekend.

All my water parameters seem great, 0 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrites, 40 ppm or lower Nitrates. I check every week but still do a water change since I fertilize everyday.

So after reading online and through the forums here, it seems cutting my tap water with 50% RO might help. Any suggestions on doing this? Do I simply just start this right away or do I ease into it? I don't want to hurt my betta, snails or shrimp....but I spent a LOT of money on plants (with more on the way) and really don't want to lose them either.

Thanks for the help!
Dereck
 

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I also have hard water, about the same as yours (8.2-8.4) and KH of 9 and GH of 15. I don't use CO2 since my tank is low tech but for about the first 6months to a year the pH was kept to about 7.5 due to the UNS controsoil I was using. It's since depleted most of its effectiveness so my water is back to ~8.2 now. I top off my tank with RO water, but other than that I don't really do much about the pH.

Most of the low tech hardy plants grow in my tank with no problems but I have noticed that there are some other plants that I have a consistently hard time growing in my tank. I can't say the definite reason is the hard water because I'm not so diligent with fertilizing/pruning either so if I were to pinpoint the most probable reason for the plant problems in my tank, I would first say it's my plant care regimen lol because I really haven't had many issues regarding the hardness of the water in other aspects of the tank.

However, obviously that's not always the case. Depends on the age/stage of your tank. Is it a newly set up tank? If so, maybe the plants are just adjusting to the new water parameters.
 

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Water "hardness" is not measured by pH. In NA, we generally refer to hardness as measured by GH, which is a combination of calcium and magnesium. You can buy an inexpensive GH/KH test kit (API, as an example) to measure your hardness. Until we have the GH measurement, there is no way to know how "hard" your water is.

Outside NA, "hardness" often refers to carbonate hardness as measured by KH (alkalinity, as a colloquial term). High KH readings do increase pH readings. However, you generally should not have plant problems simply as a function of high pH levels.

I think that, once you dial your CO2 levels in correctly (much advice on this throughout TPT), your plants will likely start to improve, possibly dramatically. It could take a few weeks to notice. I suggest that you do nothing more until you get your CO2 stable. You will also see you pH drop as a result of the CO2. To help you dial the CO2 in, take a glass of tank water and let it sit for several days. Then measure that tank water pH. Slowly, over several days, push CO2 higher until you r tank pH is a full 1 to 1.4 points lower than the sample water.

Your nitrates are kind of on the high side. If your tap water is that high in NO3, then cutting it with RO or distilled water may be the only option. However, it is more likely due to your fertilizer (with which I am not familiar and which you may be overdoing) and/or your organic waste (mostly from feeding). You don’t need root tabs, everything can be supplied in the water column. Again, I’d give it a few weeks for the CO2 to do it’s magic and then come back if you still have problems.
 
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