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The true successes of Peat Moss...
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Joined: 29 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: 2005.01.24(Mon)17:56    Post subject: The true successes of Peat Moss... Reply with quote

Hello,
I'm thinking about adding a nice sized chunk of peat moss to lower the pH, mines at about 8.1 and I want to add more Amazon type fish. I read on here, that it will lower it...

I'm just wondering if it will lower it enouph to even bother with it, or if does lower it significantly, how much could I expect? how much should I use? Can I use the "Miracle Grow" kind you get at the hardware store? is there a certain recommended type?

TIA
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@-McP
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PostPosted: 2005.01.24(Mon)18:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

the peat I use is fluval balls or fluval fibre. I had a bit of trouble using different garden products so I rely on aquarium specific things when it comes to this now Wink
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benedictj
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Joined: 05 Dec 2004
Location: new york, ny

PostPosted: 2005.01.24(Mon)19:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peat moss is great for softening water, but it doesn't really lower your pH.(I'll explain this below) If you are getting into SA cichlids, you'll want soft water so add some anyway.

Basically, the benefit of peat moss is that calcium and magnesium naturally bond to its surface. Calcium and magnesium are the two components which determine if water is hard or soft. It doesn't effect the amount of carbon, bi-carbonate, and carbolic acid in your water, which are the primary components in dictating the pH of your water.

The presence of carbon based compounds is typically measured as KH. They control the buffering capacity of your water, which loosely spoken is the ability of your water to resist a change in pH.

The only real method of changing your KH is by using Reverse Osmosis water in your tank. RO water is filtered and pretty much devoid of carbons. It's not uncommon to find it in stores. (Don't use any pH down stuff, it's very bad for your tank.)

I use the same peat that @-McP uses, it works really well. As far as the Miracle Grow goes, just check to make sure they don't fortify it with anything, especially fertilizer compounds like urea and phospates, as it could lead to algal or cycle problems.

Are you planning on planting the tank and setting up a CO2 supply? You'll want to factor that in before you begin lowering your KH.
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rclover
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PostPosted: 2005.01.24(Mon)19:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

it doesn't lower pH it just makes the water softer.
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PostPosted: 2005.01.24(Mon)20:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciatte you taking the time to write that, thank you. That helped a lot, I also found some links using Google that explain about Peat.
Have a nice one!
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: 2005.01.24(Mon)22:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's important to present accurate information, I never want to appear as though I'm correcting an individual, I just want the information to be correct.

So...just to clarify a few items from above.

Quote:
Basically, the benefit of peat moss is that calcium and magnesium naturally bond to its surface. Calcium and magnesium are the two components which determine if water is hard or soft.


This is basically correct but is lacking the other major effect of peat...the pH lowering ability of peat. The organic and humic substances of peat bind with the positively charged calcium and magnesium in hard water...AND release H+ ions, thus lowering the pH...it can't do one without the other.

Quote:
It doesn't effect the amount of carbon, bi-carbonate, and carbolic acid in your water, which are the primary components in dictating the pH of your water.


Yes, it does effect bicarbonate. The acids released from decaying peat forms carbon dioxide, some this CO2 forms carbonic (not carbolic) acid and escapes into the atmosphere so that CO2 and bicarbonate remain in equilibrium. As acids are added bicarbonate is turned into CO2 and lost to the atmosphere so that equilibrium is maintained. This is really what a buffering system is about...resisting a change in pH, IF a little acid or base is added...when lots of acid or base is added then some of the buffer is lost. It is possible to add enough acid to completely lose all buffering capacity. HCl is one quick way to achieve this, but peat can do it to if the ratio of peat to water is high enough.

Quote:

The presence of carbon based compounds is typically measured as KH. They control the buffering capacity of your water, which loosely spoken is the ability of your water to resist a change in pH.


Specifically a KH test is measuring bicarbonate. If any other acids are present they will be titrated along with the bicarbonate. That's why you can't get an accurate CO2 reading when injecting CO2 and using peat...the acids from the peat interfere with the KH test kit giving a false high reading and leading the hobbyist to think there is much more CO2 in their tank than is actually the case.

Quote:

The only real method of changing your KH is by using Reverse Osmosis water in your tank. RO water is filtered and pretty much devoid of carbons. It's not uncommon to find it in stores. (Don't use any pH down stuff, it's very bad for your tank.)


Excellent advice, except I'd add that there is another option for lowering KH. Using rainwater to dilute your source water. This works well for some folks but the "source" is unpredicable and may contain contaminates. (Actually there's lime soda ash but that very expensive) RO is the best choice IMO.


Quote:
As far as the Miracle Grow goes, just check to make sure they don't fortify it with anything, especially fertilizer compounds like urea and phospates, as it could lead to algal or cycle problems.


Plain bailed spagnum peat moss is what you want, note that not all peat is equal, the pH of peat can vary quite a bit. I agree completely that you want to avoid any peat that has any additives.

Quote:
Are you planning on planting the tank and setting up a CO2 supply? You'll want to factor that in before you begin lowering your KH.


More good advice. Using CO2 injection correctly will result in lowering your pH 0.6 to 1.0. Combining CO2 injection and peat is a risky decision because to very difficult to determine CO2 levels.
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benedictj
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PostPosted: 2005.01.24(Mon)22:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve,

I don't feel singled out at all. Frankly, it is good to know the errors in my conception of the processes, though I feel I'm within the general ballpark most of time. Still, more knowledge, better tanks.

I've had the CO2 running with peat stuck in my filter for a year now. Since I set it up, I've been fairly voracious about reading up. During that time, I have never heard anyone address the issue of peat, KH and CO2. Would have been nice if someone, someplace had made a point of mentioning it. (granted, I didn't spend anytime on the various boards.)

I'm going to hijack for a second and pick your brain slightly.

I'm assuming that tannic acid released from driftwood works in the same way as peat, n'est pas? (Slighter effect, right?).

Further, do you have any idea what the window of innaccuracy is in KH readings with these acids present? (Obviously dependent on the amount of acid etc, maybe a model scenario).
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Steve Hampton
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PostPosted: 2005.01.26(Wed)8:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

benedictj wrote:

I'm assuming that tannic acid released from driftwood works in the same way as peat, n'est pas? (Slighter effect, right?).


I suppose we could in a very broad since say that in some ways the effect is the same, however in reality driftwood could never approach having any significant effect when compared to using peat. Even longterm, most driftwood won't release enough acids to effect any change in pH or KH in a tank. The acids from nitrification normally collect quicker than the breakdown of driftwood. I don't think it would ever be possible in normal circumstances to have driftwood, no mater the ratio of water to drfitwood (unless the driftwood was rotting and decaying at a very fast rate) would it have much impact on reducing KH and/or pH.

Quote:

Further, do you have any idea what the window of innaccuracy is in KH readings with these acids present? (Obviously dependent on the amount of acid etc, maybe a model scenario).


It depends entirely on how much acid is present and what type of acid...their are other factors that effect the KH test too such as buffers that are hydroxide, ammonium, borates, phosphates, silicates, sulfides, and organic ligands based.

What one needs to do is use this scenario: Take a cup or two of tank water and place it in a bowl with aeration overnight. The next day take a KH and pH reading of the bowl of water. Because the bowl of water was aerated overnight the CO2 in the water should be a equilibrium...and that should be around 2-3 ppm indoors. If the tests results from the pH and KH tests reveals a larger amount of CO2 then the KH test kit is getting interference from other acids and it's giving a false high reading. You can loosely use the amount of the CO2 over 2-3 ppm as the "false CO2". Let me explain:

Let's say your KH and pH test results indicates that the aerated water has 20 ppm of CO2. You could then loosely assume that you are getting 17-18 ppm "worth" of interference from other acids. Here's where this assumption gets tricky. If you were to inject CO2 to the normally prescribed levels of 20-30 ppm...witht this KH interference you'd actually have to run levels of 37-47 ppm based on pH and KH tests. Does that make sense? My explaination seems very poor. This only works in a narrow range though, the more acid present, the stronger the interference, the stronger the interference the less true this "estimative" approach will safely work. Meaning, when there is 60 ppm "worth" of KH interference it becomes much less accurate to estimate CO2 levels and with that it becomes a bit dangerous for inexperienced fishkeepers to use CO2 injection. (It becomes very easy to overdose with CO2 and harm the fish, experienced fishkeepers can usually recognize the very early signs of CO2 overdosing more readily)

I don't think I gave you exactly the answer you were looking for, but I'm hoping this may help a bit. If not, your welcome to ask more questions...although a direct answer to your question is probably simply, that to determine the other acids and the exact amount of interference would require laboratory water testing.
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benedictj
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PostPosted: 2005.01.26(Wed)12:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Steve,

Actually, I think I get it, no need to worry about the clarity. It seems that there are too many variables to really try to peg it down precisely without lab testing, as you said. Basically, using the overnight bubbling and subsequent testing is just simple subtraction which works perfectly for this plebian.

This has been very helpful to me, as I've been kind of stumped on why I'm not getting an adequate level of pearling out of my java moss. (Some. just not as wide spread as it should be for approx 20-25ppm).

Since I'm on DIY (one coke bottle on a 29g), I don't think I'm ODing. Though I know to watch for heavy breathing, "spastic activity" and lower zone fish drifting up to the surface and sucking air. I also keep a good eye on my amanos, as they seem to get a bit more active when the CO2 starts rising.

Anyway, thanks again. Wish I had stumbled upon this info earlier.
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Plantbrain
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PostPosted: 2005.01.30(Sun)6:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use ground peat, Scott's brand works dandy.
Make a great veggie burger.....

Anothe rproduct and material you all can use for a planted tank on the bottom layer of any new set up: leonardite.

It'll not make or break a tank, but it's cheap and works in some ways better over time than peat.

Peat's effects are limited and it will break down in a few months, leonaridte will last longer and is hard, like coal, it's sort of "young coal" which is just really old compressed peat.

Diamond black is the brand name, has an Indian(the kind with a feather, not a dot) on it holding a plant. Hydroponics places carry it.

This will last longer and likely absorb more ions than the peat, the peat breaks down and the roots come looking for nutrients so this will help cycle the nutrients better in the substrate over time.

Adding peat allows the tank to have a similar redox level as an established tank does right off the bat.

Add some detritus from an old established tank and you are good to go.
Get that vacuumed mulm , the dirt that settles on the bottom of bucket after to do a water change and vacuum deeply.

This adds precisely what is missing from a new substrate.

The peat reduces the substrate for about a month or two till the bacterial colony gets fully established and also provides a source of carbon(not the CO2, think carbohydrates type of Carbon) which if not present, can great delay the time it takes for a good substrate bacterial colony to establish.
This is also true for marine and Fish only systems.

FYI,

Regards,
Tom Barr
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