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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello-
My pH (as listed by the tap company) is around 7.6. My GH and KH both are in the 1.5-3 degrees range (stupid cheap API test ugh). Can this cause problems for plants? I think it is affecting the shells of my snails already, as the tips of my mts are white and look they they are slowly dissolving. I know I probably should not attempt shrimp, but are there any other limitations I have? I am also doing a small experiment by running some small clean oyster shells in the filter to test if that will raise my KH at all.
 

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Kh won't help snail shells, other than keeping pH above 7.

What you need to be concerned with is Gh. Whether the oyster shells will help or not depends on many factors. Time will tell.

Fyi, I have ramshorns breeding in 1kh water, where pH regularly dips below 6.0 due to co2. My Gh is 6. I wouldn't necessarily do that with other types of snails.



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My KH falls to near zero, but I buffer with carbonate to hold pH in the 6.0 area (sometimes drifts well below that) to hit the optimal pH for fert uptake by plants. dGH sits roughly in the 3-4 area. My Ramshorns do fine in this environment, but do benefit from feeding.

Feed them with a calcium-rich food, once a week is fine. They get most of the calcium, for their shells, from feeding. There may not be enough periphyton, excess food, detritus, etc. for them. The problem becomes trying to prevent the fish from eating the food. So, what I do is to use a snail trap, which is nothing more than a feeder, of this type: Amazon.com: WEAVERBIRD Snail Catcher Trap Plastic Trap Hands on Catcher with Fishing Line for Aquarium Fish Tank, Transparent: Pet Supplies. For food, I use this: Amazon.com: MINI VEGGIE STICKS WITH CALCIUM 4oz BAG - ABF3: Everything Else, but any similar food that is high in calcium would work. Some people use blanched vegetables such as spinach, but I've found these to make a mess and are hard to control.

Incidentally, you can greatly improve the precision of those API tests by modifying them. Use 25ml of sample water. Then, when you see the color change, divide the number of drops by 5. This works for both the GH and KH test kits.

Your plants may be ok with the GH you have, and generally prefer low KH, but I would make sure that your Ca and Mg are both available in a good ratio ranging from 2:1 to 4:1 Ca:Mg. If your GH tests as low as you think it is (1.5 area?), I would be concerned that either Ca or Mg may be missing. You can take a Ca reading and claculate Mg from the Ca and GH readings, or vice versa. If you are interested in how to do this let me know. The easiest way is probably to just cover yourself by dosing a GH additive to reach a 4-5 dGH target.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I know the mg is almost zero from the tap water report (around 1.5ppm) and calcium is higher, around 30 ppm. General hardness (CaCO3) is ~82 ppm. Obviously these are a bit higher due to top offs with tap water, but still. I also started feeding some collards and other greens when I put the shells in to see if it makes a difference.

Also, are there any fish that fit these parameters particularly well? I love blackwater fish but the pH is pretty high for most of those guys- although its easy to kick pH down when kH is so low ofc
 

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My tap water is very similar to yours, just a bit softer with kh and gh between 1 and 2 dh. I remineralize to about 6 dGH and don't worry about my kh at all.

I worried about the ph being too high in my tanks as well, so I did a lot of reading and concluded it would be fine for most fish and haven't had issues since. I don't expect the soft water fish to breed and I don't try super sensitive specialists (like, no licorice gourami for me), but I focus instead on good maintenance and consistent parameters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What do you remineralize with? For the tank I already mentioned I will still raise the gH, but I am considering other more picky options for my other tank (still have to clear out the current livestock but)
 

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I use calcium chloride for Ca and epsom salt for Mg. I have no complaints about using them (they will form a precipitate in a concentrated solution though, so avoid that), but I use them because I already had them both on hand. Some commercial products include K as well, but I'm not sure of the reasoning behind that. I get lots of K (and a little extra Mg) from my regular fertilizer, so I've got that base covered.
 

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My KH falls to near zero, but I buffer with carbonate to hold pH in the 6.0 area (sometimes drifts well below that)
Hi @Deanna

A risk associated with allowing pH to fall much below 6.0 is that your nitrifying bacteria may not be too happy with that. I prefer to maintain alkalinity/carbonate hardness at 3 to 4 dKH. I was once raising no less than 41 German Blue Rams (GBRs) when I had a pH crash in the tank. The KH had dropped too low. Fortunately, there wasn't even a single casualty in the tank. I just had to pick myself up off the floor!

Anon
 

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A risk associated with allowing pH to fall much below 6.0 is that your nitrifying bacteria may not be too happy with that. I prefer to maintain alkalinity/carbonate hardness at 3 to 4 dKH. I was once raising no less than 41 German Blue Rams (GBRs) when I had a pH crash in the tank. The KH had dropped too low. Fortunately, there wasn't even a single casualty in the tank. I just had to pick myself up off the floor!
Yes, BB that develop in more alkaline environments do start to go dormant as pH moves deeper into the acidic arena. However, there are BB varieties that do continue to develop and function in acidic water. In any case, maximum functioning of BB is in the alkaline area, which is good because that is where the deadly free ammonia exists. In acidic water, the safer ammonium exists, so BB conversion isn't nearly as important. Plants will step up, in both environments, to remove both NH3 and NH4 excess.

pH "crashes" are something of a myth in their consequences. It's not so much a "crash" as a drifting due to either KH disappearing or rapid acid formation (unusual and often induced by accident). This is why your Rams were fine. pH variance due to CO2 is completely harmless. What we used to think of as deadly pH "crashes" (and I believed in this for many decades), we have now come to realize are actually deadly TDS crashes or explosions (it works in both directions).
 

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Yes, BB that develop in more alkaline environments do start to go dormant as pH moves deeper into the acidic arena. However, there are BB varieties that do continue to develop and function in acidic water. In any case, maximum functioning of BB is in the alkaline area, which is good because that is where the deadly free ammonia exists. In acidic water, the safer ammonium exists, so BB conversion isn't nearly as important. Plants will step up, in both environments, to remove both NH3 and NH4 excess.

pH "crashes" are something of a myth in their consequences. It's not so much a "crash" as a drifting due to either KH disappearing or rapid acid formation (unusual and often induced by accident). This is why your Rams were fine. pH variance due to CO2 is completely harmless. What we used to think of as deadly pH "crashes" (and I believed in this for many decades), we have now come to realize are actually deadly TDS crashes or explosions (it works in both directions).
+1 on this!

Way too much focus being placed on pH, especially in freshwater environment.

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I should add a qualifier that, while wide ph swings are tolerable for the vast majority of tropical fish, there are some species, such as Discus, that will struggle with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have been keeping fish for a number of years, but always focused on consistency rather than studying my water chemistry to a great extent- now I am getting interested in the specifics and this is all really interesting stuff. I'm also glad to hear that a pH swing may not be as dangerous as people think
 

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Way too much focus being placed on pH, especially in freshwater environment.
I'm not sure that anyone is placing too much focus on pH. Are you suggesting that pH is unimportant in a freshwater environment? It appears to be important for aquarium plants - many of which don't seem to grow well in alkaline water, i.e. pH > 7.0. And, CO2 injection will often push pH below 7.0 anyway (dependent on water KH).

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I'm not sure that anyone is placing too much focus on pH. Are you suggesting that pH is unimportant in a freshwater environment? It appears to be important for aquarium plants - many of which don't seem to grow well in alkaline water, i.e. pH > 7.0. And, CO2 injection will often push pH below 7.0 anyway (dependent on water KH).

Anon

You know I almost put a qualifier on my statement as well.

And it definitely needed it. :)

What I am saying is that pH is not as important as people tend to make it. Especially when it comes to fluctuations. There are other parameters that are more important. In relation to this thread, just because pH is at 7.5 doesn't mean plants are going to suffer. There are definitely more important parameters to focus on.

That said I monitor ph on a 24/7 basis. So I don't want to give the impression that I never test pH. Quite the opposite.

Most test pH once, maybe twice. On the day that they test. This makes it difficult to understand what pH is doing in their tanks (including any error introduced by hobby grade tests), which leads to a cause and effect relationship that can be inaccurate. Often times widely inaccurate.



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Order Now - Planted Aquarium Fertilizer
I am thinking about ordering the GH booster from here with the 3 part K, 3 part CaCl, 3 part Mg ratio. Thoughts? Also are these root tabs any good?
I'm not familiar at all with these guys so hopefully someone can chime in that is but it actually looks like it's a 3:1 ratio Ca: Mg which is good.

If you are not running co2 and the resulting heavy Ferts, the added K shouldn't hurt either.

And all I can say about root tabs is that if they use capsules (that dissolve in water), you will want a deep substrate bed. I've never been able to get mine too stay. But I have a rather thin substrate layer.

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My tap water is sourced from well water and has a pH in range of 7.0 - 7.4 and kH in range of 14 - 20 dkH and GH in range of 19 - 20 dGH. I mix filtered tap water with Reverse Osmosis water I can easily get from a local Pet Shop in town to get a great final combination. The R.O. water has a pH in range of 6.4 - 6.6 and 1 dkH and 1 dGH. You may wish to think about doing something like this. In addition, you may wish to keep some Seachem buffers on hand such as Acid Buffer, Alkaline Buffer, Equilibrim, and KH Carbonate. Each has a purpose. The kH Carbonate is great at increasing kH but not GH. Equilibrium is great at increasing both kH and GH. I also use CO2 injection and I have not had to use liquid Carbon in quite some time now. Basically the pH swings stay very consistent throughout each day and night (swings stay within 1 in a given day) and CO2 stays in the sweet spot thru each day so I no longer need to monitor as often as I had done in the initial months.
 
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