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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was wondering can someone give me some insight on the effects of high kh. I should have tested kh , I may have tested for gh & I figured I was ok. I now have a kh of 8 or 9! I cannot lower it. Should I try to lower the ph with buffers? . I have never used buffers before.. I am extremely disappointed in the pool filter sand. My substrate is mostly Flourite I added some pool filter sand to help anchor my plants since I am running RMTS. It helped in that regard. What are the problems I may run into , say high ph fish scratching & do some plants not enjoy high kh? I am use to having total control of my water that I make using R/O water that I remineralize. Without a digital ph meter I really do not know how high my ph is. I do understand that fish get use to ph changes but if they are kept outside their ideal range maybe that could be a problem.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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First off, you sure the source is your sand? No rocks in your tank, and have you double-checked your tap water if that's what you're using?

If you're sure it's the sand, then it sounds like you don't have pure silica-based sand, there's possibly some calcium carbonate-based substrate mixed in there somewhere. If that's the case, I'd be tempted to re-do the substrate just so it doesn't keep your parameters swinging every time you do a water change. :/

If you're used to reconsituting RO water, why aren't you doing that any more? That could be a solution.

I wouldn't start adding chemicals to try and bring your kH/pH down... it's really hard to maintain stability in a tank when you start chemically altering the water- especially when it comes time to do water changes.

If you can nail down the source of your kH to determine whether or not you can expect your parameters to remain stable, you can work with this high kH, though. Most plants don't mind, and you can just select livestock that suited to harder water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks so much for your reply . Well I can tell you for sure thats its the pool filter sand. I checked a small batch using r/o water with no kh booster & sure enough that small little container with just a tablespoon of pool filter sand is exactly what my tank kh is. I am use to mixing my own r/o water & making what ever kh & gh I want. Like I said the substrate is Flourite & that substrate never alters ph / kh. So I just need feed back on this. My fish seem pretty healthy although they have an occasional scratch . I did qt them & they would scratch a little in the other tank without pool filter sand. I am still not sure if its parasites but for now I am keeping a close eye on them to see if the problem gets worse. But the plants are growing well & I wanted & akaline tank anyway but I wanted it to be my numbers not locked in on a given kh. I am surprised more people have not posted kh issues using pool filter sand. Maybe some sands vary. I use r/o water so tap water is a not the issue. I check kh & Gh every time I mix.
 

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SCRATCHING fish- I missed that in your first post! That sounds like ich. :/ Ich is an external parasite that is extremely contagious and can quickly kill fish.

It's possible that just the rapid water parameter shift when you added the PFS caused some damage and the fish are scratching because of that... but it's more likely that at least one of your fish arrived carrying the parasite, and the water parameter shift weakend the fish to the point that it triggered an outbreak.

As I said previously, if your water parameters are stable now, then you can definitely work with them.

However, it also sounds like you need to treat your fish for ich. Lots of commercial meds available for ich. Or salt and heat, though the plants often don't appreciate that approach as much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It sounds like you are really jumping to conclusions on the scratching. The fish were in qt for 3 weeks & showed no spots. They appear healthy, & breath normal & show normal activity. It is unwise to medicate & stress fish without proper cause. It is a myth that sudden stress causes an ick out brake. The parasites cannot live without a host after 3 or 4 weeks. I have had ick in the past & I know exactly what to look for. I qt all my fish. To heat a tank & add salt to a well established tank with happy healthy looking fish is unwise. Fish scratching can have many causes. We are also getting off topic. The original question was pertaining to problems with plants & fish with high kh !

More than likely it is possible they could have gill flukes but by now they would have had more problems than they do. After a while they will lay on the bottom & breath heavy & gasp at the surface. They do not show any of this, but I am keeping an eye out. My first choice would be prazi not any ick meds! But again until I see real problems I would refrain from meds. People tend to jump to conclusions & use meds for wrong diagnoses .. Ick is very obvious & ick should go away forever if people would just qt their fish, but most do not.
 

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I find there are lots of reasons for flashing. One big one is when the water changes more than they like. Ich would be among the later things I would suspect.
Meanwhile the high KH is not likely to be a big thing if it settles somewhere. I have really high GH and KH without problems.
I am somewhat surprised to hear it coming from pool filter sand. I was under the impression there were pretty close standards for filter sand to avoid all kinds of problems getting the pool water adjusted. High KH would really mess with getting the water right in pools. Maybe a bit of a cheap brand or such? Overall I find getting the pool squared away is much more difficult that doing the tank what with the size and weather being such factors.
 

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I use pool filter sand #20 in 3 tanks and buffer my ro water to specific specs the tank water is so balanced I really don't need to check it because the readings are always the same.
I did occur some flashing in 1 tank because I was changing to much water and the fish were stressing.
I have also dealt with flukes there almost hard to avoid at any big lfs.
I have not measured kh for a long time now but now I'm more curious since you fell certain its from the sand did you use # 20 pool filter sand ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I used quickrete pool filter sand #1153. I hate to break the news but it does. OR MY KH TEST KIT IS FAULTY! Since I have been making water for years & my kh levels have been stable in all my tanks except my new 55 NPT tank with RMT! The only difference is the pool filter sand. I tested a batch on the side with r/o water with no Kh in a small container & sure enough the kh was sky high!!! I even went over all my other tanks & double checked those tanks & they all seemed dead on with the kh test kit. Before anybody says its my test kit , that is simply not true. I have never had a problem before.. I keep adding water without kh to the 55 & the kh keeps rising. I believe its stressing my fish at this point. I may have to start changing larger amounts, but I am starting to get worried at this point. The tank has been doing well but the fish seem to be acting indifferent to the chemistry of late & the only thing thats changing is my kh is rising.

Is the Quickrete pool filter sand the correct stuff or is there different pool filter sands?? Maybe even though I remineralize my r/o water the r/o water is pulling some base out?? Maybe over time the small amount thats in the tank will neutralize???? Insight anyone ?
 

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I would suspect it being the quickcrete brand might be affecting the numbers. Maybe its not entirely all silica sand. I forget the brand I used, but I'm certain it wasn't quickcrete.

Have you tested the sand in tap water in the bucket? I would go to your local pool filter supply store and get a bag of their store brand and try your luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for your reply: As stated I tested a small batch , meaning just about a tablespoon worth with pure r/o water & the Kh was sky high as I stated earlier. There seems to be no way out of this! My only hope is that every few days performing small water changes I MAY be able to neutralize what ever buffer they are using. I believe unless my r/o is spitting out Kh that there is no other possibility. That little test sample raised my kh way up. Normally I would get zero with an r/o sample straight up. I wish I never added the stuff. The whole point of having a tank like this is low effort, not working at it every day!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have a 5 gallon batch of fresh water ready now. Kh 0, Gh3. Current tank values are Kh10, Gh11. At one point I had it down to Kh8, Gh10. My goal for this tank is Kh5, Gh8. I will try 3 or 4 small water changes a week & maybe some light gravel vacs to suck out a little of the tiny layer that does not even cover 20% of the substrate! It is just a dusting but enough to cause some damage!
 

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I would suspect it being the quickcrete brand might be affecting the numbers. Maybe its not entirely all silica sand. I forget the brand I used, but I'm certain it wasn't quickcrete.

Have you tested the sand in tap water in the bucket? I would go to your local pool filter supply store and get a bag of their store brand and try your luck.
I to suspect its the kind of sand your using #20 is the base standart for pools and has not created any problems for me.
 

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Have you tried acid on this stuff?
 

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I am surprised that any pool filter sand would do this.
However, you have one that does. :-(

I would do the best you can to remove it from the tank. A very small trace may remain, and that little bit might be OK, but I would remove all visible bits, even if you are wasting some of the Flourite.

There is a slightly different material.
It is sold as a base for the Cool Deck or Desert Frontier Pool deck surface by Stegmeir.
The sand is a ground dolomite called Deck Sand.
I tested a tablespoon in a cup of water, and it sure sent the readings skyward!
Dolomite is a shiny, sparkly white material. I am almost positive dolomite is calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. I get this at a masonry store. They sell rock, concrete supplies and similar materials.

The local swimming pool stores sell 20 and 30 mesh sand for pool filters, and it has always been a silica based sand. I can get other sizes of silica sand at masonry stores, too. One of the brand names is Lapis Lustre.
 

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It sounds like you are really jumping to conclusions on the scratching.
Nope, not jumping to conclusions. Can't ever be sure how much background people have in common fish health issues, and ich is something I always am on the lookout for as it's so ridiculously prevalent due to the way fish are currently mass farmed/imported and stocked/kept in overcrowded conditions with mass filtration systems before sale to an unsuspecting hobbyist.


The fish were in qt for 3 weeks & showed no spots. They appear healthy, & breath normal & show normal activity.
Of course good signs, but does not eliminate the possibility that one or more may be carrying ich or many other parasites/diseases.


It is unwise to medicate & stress fish without proper cause.
I agree.

It is a myth that sudden stress causes an ick out brake.
That's not true (or just mis-stated). Any stressor can trigger a minor health issue into a major epidemic, especially in a closed system.


The parasites cannot live without a host after 3 or 4 weeks. I have had ick in the past & I know exactly what to look for. I qt all my fish. To heat a tank & add salt to a well established tank with happy healthy looking fish is unwise. Fish scratching can have many causes. We are also getting off topic. The original question was pertaining to problems with plants & fish with high kh !

More than likely it is possible they could have gill flukes but by now they would have had more problems than they do. After a while they will lay on the bottom & breath heavy & gasp at the surface. They do not show any of this, but I am keeping an eye out. My first choice would be prazi not any ick meds! But again until I see real problems I would refrain from meds. People tend to jump to conclusions & use meds for wrong diagnoses
Good, and agreed, but I personally think that you need to be careful about dismissing the possibility of ich/other parasite or disease completely just because your fish passed quarantine. It's definitely possible that your fish are having issues just from the dramatic water parameter shifts they've been experiencing. But that may not be the case, and, as I stated earlier, stressors such as the water parameter issues here often can trigger the outbreak of other problems that were carried in by one or a few fish but under control while their own immune systems were healthy... but now probably are not.

Ick is very obvious & ick should go away forever if people would just qt their fish, but most do not.
I wish that were true. But unfortunately, it's not. Ich is a tiny parasite and cannot be seen without a microscope. It is the lesions left behind by infestations at the point that the parasite has become an epidemic that are visible to the naked eye. The parasite can easily pass through quarantine if just a few individuals are present. Further, ich has proven to have evolved significantly over the years as it has gained resistances to many of the treatments that used to be effective.

In addition to ich, there are scientific studies underway that are identifying various retroviruses that seem to have literally injected themselves into the DNA of some of the fish that we commonly keep in the hobby... dwarf gourami and iridiovirus being one example that we know of.


...ALL of that to say- IMO you still need to keep a close eye on your fish and be prepared to medicate if needed, even after you figure out and correct your water parameter issues.
 

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I am surprised that any pool filter sand would do this.
However, you have one that does. :-(

I would do the best you can to remove it from the tank. A very small trace may remain, and that little bit might be OK, but I would remove all visible bits, even if you are wasting some of the Flourite.

There is a slightly different material.
It is sold as a base for the Cool Deck or Desert Frontier Pool deck surface by Stegmeir.
The sand is a ground dolomite called Deck Sand.
I tested a tablespoon in a cup of water, and it sure sent the readings skyward!
Dolomite is a shiny, sparkly white material. I am almost positive dolomite is calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. I get this at a masonry store. They sell rock, concrete supplies and similar materials.

The local swimming pool stores sell 20 and 30 mesh sand for pool filters, and it has always been a silica based sand. I can get other sizes of silica sand at masonry stores, too. One of the brand names is Lapis Lustre.
One thing I like about the 20 mesh/ grit is that it does not float around will not get caught up in your filter impeller , my cichlids love to play in the sand there always diging or spitting sand around with no issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ok I think we are all on the same page about the fact that MY pool filter sand does indeed contain carbonates & will raise kh. In fact I think my Gh is rising as well. Also posting still about the parasites which probably do not exist on my fish are off target again. However I do understand the importance of QT. But ick will ID itself after 3 weeks or you are simply not detail orientated. Ick should never make it past a good QT. Gill Flukes & trichodina & a like are a different matter. Fish taken out of display for 4-6 weeks should fix most problems in the display tank than the fish should be moved to a different tank & treated for target infection instead of dumping salt & high heat into a planted tank destroying it. Although when I was young & did not QT I did get ick in a planted tank & the high heat alone did work but it really stressed the fish out but it killed the ick off with no fish loss.

I am going to try & remove some of the sand. Then I will perform frequent small water changes in hope that in time the bases will neutralize. If not I will have to take the tank down which will be very displeasing. But a learning experience. It was my bad anyway. It was my bright idea thinking that I was making a better seal on the cap. Had I realized that the constant burping will just cause a slightly perpetual haze that can only be seen from the long side of the tank not straight on. Most folks miss this part about dirted tanks. Its not perfect, but can grow plants really nice & with a bonus of low maintenance less work more time enjoying than high work loads caused from high tech tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
update on kh condition

I am posting new results since this problem is still persisting. I did not want to post a new thread.

I am completely puzzled on what is going on. I have completed at least 3 small water changes since last posting. 0KH & 8GH water changes & my KH is still rising. I have since pulled 30% of the remaining pool filter sand & stored it in a cup with pure r/o water. My results, 0KH was detected in the aged pool filter sand even after 24 hours. New pool filter sand does contain KH buffer but after aging it seems to buffer nothing!!!! I tested the Fe powder as well as the CaSo4 which also showed no Kh buffering. I even tested aged MGO potting soil which also showed no KH buffering going on! I am puzzled to say the least. On paper my Kh should be going down. This makes zero sense. What could be going on? I suspect one very small rock needs to be tested as well , but it is the only 7cm rock in the tank?

The fish scratching issue I believe is solved. The scratching calmed down a lot between water changes but I suspect monopotassium phosphate irritates their gills. After dosing from 1.5ppm's to 3.5 by accident they started to scratch immediately. I also believe in part ph swings can cause it as well or the ph is too far out of range for the given species.
 

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I think you have figured out the scratching fish. You are right that pH out of their range can cause it. I do not know if an overdose of fertilizer can do that, but maybe. IF you dosed and they started scratching that sure is suggestive. Good sign that a water change stopped the scratching.

Now I am scratching my head about the cause of the KH rising.

Testing each item separately in RO water is exactly the right thing to do.

One pebble, just 7 cm across would have to be highly active to do such a thing, but if that is all that is left, pull it out and test it!

Are you adding any other additives? Try a few drops in a cup of water and see if that causes a change in KH.
 
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