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Having Problems With Ph & Kh

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Jazzie, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Jazzie

    Jazzie New Member

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    Hi guys

    So I've been having some ph swings due to my kH depleting.
    Some info

    Out the tap: pH 7 (after 24hrs) gh 5 kh 3
    Current tank readings: pH 6.6 gh 5 kh 2
    2/3days later: pH 6 kh 0
    I have nt labs liquid testing kit and api liquid getting kit too ( nearly run out of api hence why I brought nt labs, ppl telling it was better)

    Tanks 230l I have
    10 black neons
    10 cherry barbs
    6 emporer tetra
    6 white widows
    2 bn plecos
    12 corys
    Amano shrimp 10-20
    Couple of snails

    It's also affecting my other tanks, pea puffer 64l recently set up and my 57l tank been set up since July.

    Tank was set up in April as an upgrade.

    filter consists of Alphagrog and little bit of biohome, course, medium and filter floss sponges.
    Substrate I clean do every second water change.
    Filter I clean every 2nd/3rd week
    I use Prime with water change and tnc complete liquid ferts.
    For the last 2 weeks I have been doing a water change every 2/3 days min 60%.

    My previous routine was alot less than this, got advice (regarding my kh depletion) that I should be doing more bigger water changes. I used to do about 30% once a week.

    So within 2/3 days my kh will deplete from 2 to 0 and then my ph goes from 6.8 to 6 ( possibly lower)

    I've had sooo many different advice
    Crushed coral
    Limestone
    Ph buffers
    Kh puffers
    But each time I get a recommendation I get someone denouncing it and my own research brings up conflicts as well.

    So now I'm very confused and don't have a clue what to do next......please help.
     
  2. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    What is your substrate? Some substrates will lower your kH and pH.
     
  3. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones New Member

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    I have the same problem with my growout tank that uses Fluval Stratum aquasoil. My main tank with Flourite Black sand maintains its kH properly. My tap water is a crazy 9+ pH, and I run RO and remineralize with Seachem Equalibrium and Alkaline/Acid Buffer (1:2 ratio). In the mornings after aerating all night it would have a pH of 6.2-6.4.

    I don't know if I just got lucky, but I added a small bag of crushed shells to the growout tank filter and it does keep the pH around 7 after aerating all night. However, the kH drops to below 2.

    Even after using the pH buffers, my main tank tends to have a pH of 7.4-7.6 in the morning after aerating, so I added a small bag of Stratum to my filter, and now my pH is around 7 in the morning!

    I just started this last week and I'm monitoring it carefully, so I hope it remains stable now.

    Does this sound like a good way to manage this long term? I'm thinking about replacing the substrate in my main tank with UNS Contrasoil anyway.

    Thanks,
    -Rich

    Sent from my SM-G998U1 using Tapatalk
     
  4. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    Hi Rich,

    Fluval Stratum produces "slightly" acidic water. "Slightly acidic water" can have a pH of 5-.5 to 6.9. The vague term "slightly acid" can have different meanings for different people. Fortunately, you use a number pH. Your number of 6.2 to 6.4 for pH looks to be dead on - congratulations, you can measure pH better than me. If you want a pH over 7.0, your substrate is working against you. Fluval Stratum is good for acid loving fish, some shrimp, and possibly most plants. The kH also drops to a low value with Fluval Stratum (1 or less). I see in this website, a kH of 1-2 is fine. You can keep some kH in your tank by adding a tablespoon or so of your TAP water (dechlorinated) every day. Adjust to what you want. No need for shells I think - because you can control the amount of tap water you add every day.

    I suspect you would rather have a substrate that does not work against your goals. What are your goals of pH kH? What kind of "grow out" tank? Are you growing out guppies or angelfish?.....

    Best of luck!
     
  5. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones New Member

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    Actually, I'm "growing out" plants! Don't know if it is the right terminology when talking about plants vs fish, but that's just what I've been calling it. ;)

    My actual goal is to change my main tank over to UNS Contrasoil, so I'll start a new topic instead of continuing to hijack this thread. I really am curious if Jazzie was able to get things straightened out.

    Thanks!
    -Rich
     
  6. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    Hi Rich, You have set my response up perfectly.

    You an Jazzie are both having kH questions.

    In Jazzie's case she has a significant fish load in her tank and (through the Nitrogen cycle) she is creating a lot of acids that are reducing her kH and pH. But, she could also have a substrate that is buffering the pH lower and reducing her kH. Both the high fish load and buffering substrate can lower pH/kH. If she has a high fish load, then she will need to do a lot of water changes (which she is doing). Fortunately, she has good tap water for that purpose. If the fish are not causing the kH to lower, but it is more from the substrate. She could be fine letting the kH/pH go to that buffering substrate target, and just do normal weekly water changes.

    For your case, the low pH and kH are fine for your plants. My opinion is that you do not need to worry about the kH/pH for the plants. Your RO water, equalibrium, added fertilizers are all that are needed.

    I hope this makes some sense and is useful.

    Best
     
  7. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones New Member

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    Thanks Calvin, that does make perfect sense. But I am keeping Amanos and Otos in the plant grow out tank, as well as have a (over)stocked main tank. In that case, should I worry a little more about keeping a higher kH to keep the pH more stable?

    I don't know if you saw my other post about switching to UNS Contrasoil for the pH and kH benefits. I'd really like to keep the parameters between all of my tanks very similar so I can move plants and livestock between them more easily.
    So far, no one has responded to that post, so I'm not sure if that means it is a bad idea or just a bad question ;)

    Thanks,
    -Rich
     
  8. calvin doss

    calvin doss Lifetime Member
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    Hi Rich, Let me give you my opinion about the amano and otos. Because both of these fish/shrimp come from streams and rivers, I think they will be just fine. Be aware that I do not keep otos. When your grow out tank was at a ph of 6.2, did your otos look ok?

    So, I might approach the kH question differently. After the kH stabilizes, I might monitor the pH to see if it is moving. Generally, collecting data on your own system is best.... and you are great at measuring pH and kH. My opinion is that a kH value of 4 is more of a "historical target" for fish tanks with large bioloads.

    My primary suggestion is search this site to and review articles on kH and review Tom B. comments on the subject.

    I looked some packaging on the Contrasoil and it indicated acidic tendencies.... so pH would be less than 7 I think.. no experience.

    I think you plan to have the same parameter between tanks can be useful. Maybe you can use the same substrates.

    I think it can take a while to get a response on this website. I think your questions are good, and I think there are other people who have asked similar questions. I would try to scour through those for a while. Maybe something will click.

    Different people do things in different ways.... and many different ways will work.... I was wondering why you used an acid and base buffer at the same time....

    Best of luck!
     
  9. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones New Member

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    Yeah, everybody says otos are very sensitive, but these Zebra/Tiger otos have been pretty resilient so far, and are always out and about - rarely hidden.
    I'll definitely keep monitoring both pH and KH very carefully. Thanks for the suggestions!
    -Rich
     
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