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Low Kh - Help!


Zelanie

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I finally found a LFS that carries the GH and KH drop tests by API, so I picked them up this weeked. I didn't expect to find a problem, as the pH in my tank has been holding steady around 7.0-7.2, and the pH of the tap water is the same.

However, the KH of my aquarium tested at 36 ppm! :o GH was a little better at 72 ppm. I did a 50% water change earlier today, fwiw.

Naturally, I will keep a close eye on my pH. It went up when I was adding ammonia to the tank during my fishless cycle, but returned to tap water levels after the ammonia levels were 0 again. I wonder if the reason it's been steady is that I've done very consistent water changes- 50% once or twice a week so far, enough to keep the nitrates around 10.

The water that I use for the tank is from the kitchen sink. The cold water from that sink is filtered (a below-sink type filter), but the hot water isn't. Since I am temp-matching the water, the water that goes into the tank is generally a mixture of filtered and non-filtered. There's no way to get at non-filtered cold water from that sink without doing some plumbing.

I decided to test the water from the bathroom sink to see if it was harder. From that sink, both KH and GH tested at 36 ppm!

Is watching the pH enough, or should I get some buffers? I like the fact that I don't have to do anything to the water that I'm adding to match the tank at the moment.

The guy at the LFS that uses the same municipal water recommended crushed coral, but didn't mention anything about soft water. Should I get some? Is there something else I should do to increase the KH of the water?

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Crushed coral is an excellent suggestion. You can also add in a measured amount of baking soda to each water addition - but be aware that it will make your pH climb, too.

:)

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I decided on the crushed coral and returned to the LFS (hooray for Presidents' Day! :exactly )

The helpful guy who was there before wasn't there, so instead I just got strange looks when I told them it was for goldfish. The coral was too fine for the extra media bag I have, so I put it in the toe of a well-rinsed stocking, rinsed it in some tankwater, and put it under the biomax in the filter basket.

I only put 1-2 tablespoons in for for now. I am worried about making sudden changes. I can test tomorrow and add more if needed.

Since the pH of the tank will now be higher than my tap water, I will need to adjust the pH of the water I add, right? I have some "pH up" that should work. The question is- will the pH gradually climb if I'm adding pH treated, but low-KH, water to the tank where that, too, will be filtered with the coral?

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Update- the small amount of crushed coral I orignially added had no measureable effect on my water tests. I added a little more the next day, then a lot more the day after that. I currently have a pretty decently-sized bag full of coral in there, and it's been there for about 24 hours now.

KH now measures 54 ppm, and pH has climbed to 7.8. I'll keep an eye on that for a while and see if that's where those numbers are going to settle or if they're still changing before I decide what (if anything) to do next.

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OK, the crushed coral has been in for a few days.

pH 7.8

KH 71.6

It's time for my weekly water change, but since the nitrates are still at 10, and I have a question here, I am going to delay one day to decide how I should do this.

Water out of the tap is between 7.0 and 7.2 and stable, but very low in KH. When I do the water change, I could-

1. Add a little bit of baking powder, which would raise the KH even more and help to match the incoming water pH with tank pH (but would also raise the overall tank pH for the poor fishies who are new to the tank and have already had to withstand a 0.8 pH change this week).

2. Add "pH Up" (by API) to the incoming water to match pH, but I think would leave tank pH and GH unchanged.

3. Just add the tap water without amending it, and assume that pH of the (low KH) incoming water would rise to tank pH as it ran through the coral in the filter (currently a tad over 10X filtration).

I would really appreciate any feedback on this. I think that all 3 are reasonable options, but I'd prefer to choose the best one. Thanks!

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I think it depends on how much water you change at a time. If the water change is more than 30%, I would add baking soda. If you do less than 30%, I believe crash coral can handle it.

I would stay away from commercial material for $$$ and you don't know what is inside.

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Well, after coming home late from work, all of a sudden changing 30% and not messing with the pH sounded a whole lot more appealing than 50% and agonizing over quantities of baking soda. :P So I changed 9 gallons, did a partial vacuum, and removed some of the gravel. If it looks gunky tomorrow, I can always change 9 more. :krazy:

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Another tip Zelanie if it's not too much bother - you can stand the water for a few days in huge buckets with about 4cm of coral in the bottom (and an airstone would be great but I don't do that, just the coral)you can raise the pH before it goes in. You can also use clean shells. It doesn't jump a huge amount but enough for a 50% change. I have done this for years because i have the same low tap carbonate hardness. This raises my tap pH from 7 to 7.5 over a few days. Also you have very soft water so be extra careful when adding meds if you ever need to as they are more toxic/potent at a low PPM.

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