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Water chemistry Conundrum
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Mike
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Derbyshire. England. UK

PostPosted: 2004.01.21(Wed)1:49    Post subject: Water chemistry Conundrum Reply with quote

Can someone work this one out. It doesn't work on any of the principles that I know about water chemistry.

Tap water pH. 7.5 ish
KH = 8
GH = Not sure


2 tanks running.

tank 1 --- Parameters as above as tap. --- No probs there then.

tank2

pH 5.5
KH 0
GH 0
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Fish happy.

Now this was Mr. Chris tank and stock since he's going to uni. (AOFA Member of old)
But what I can't work out is the only products in the tank are slate, few pieces of bogwood, that chris says are not leeching acids.

I can't understand why the tank is whats looks to me like a pH crash, but saying that, there is no ammonia or Nitrite.

The only things that he has done of late, is add Nitra-zorb for a high Nitrate problem (water supply was 50ppm out of tap)
And he has added a wet/dry filtration system

The reason why I tested the water, because I gather nitra-zorb is a cation exchange resin that uses sodium chloride to recharge, so I was expecting the KH to be high. But the KH and GH go yellow with the first drop of solution added.

CAn anyone give me a reason why with those readings the tank has stayed stable. Its like RO water out of the tap.

BTW, I had a right job acclimatising the Discus to my water, pH 8+ KH 5 and Gh 10 Sad But all's still OK after 10 hours in my tank.

Cheers all

Mike
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Dr Mike
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Joined: 20 Dec 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO

PostPosted: 2004.01.21(Wed)2:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike this is EXACTLY how my water acts...

Tap pH 8.5, GH9, KH3. When I get it established in my tank..pH 6.5-7.0, GH3, KH 0-1. "Something" in my tank MUST leach acids too (I have very established bogwood, granite rocks, plastic plants and normal fine grain aquarium gravel...so I don't know what it is either).

I have taken Steve Hampton's advice and started adding some Bicarb with each water change (about 1/2-1 tsp with each 10 gal). I don't do it every time, cause I don't want my pH to climb too much (I like it stabilized at about 6.8, where it is now...and so do my Tetras!), but have only gotten the KH up to about 2. But I'm happy with that. If you keep pushing Bicarb, the pH will continue to rise (levels off at around 7.6 - 8.0, then won't go up any further, but the KH will continue to rise). For me pushing the KH up to 4-5 with the Bicarb at the expense of the pH going to near 8.0 is not worth it. But everyone's parameters and what fish they keep and what those fish "like" is different.

I'm happy with the pH 6.8 and KH 2. Stable enough for me and I haven't had any "crashes" (bacteria wise) from this low KH. A real good chemist friend of mine (I'm a Dr....so MY chemistry is pretty poor), said that most nitrifyers will do fine at KH2 (or even 1)...it's just that they have to adapt to be a little more "hardy" with that low of a carbonate food source. But when you really think about it...don't you want your bacteria colony to be "hardy". We always say...don't "overfeed" the fish...make them go a day a week or so without food...hungry fish = hardy fish. Why don't we treat our nitrifying bacteria the same?

Just some food for thought as I have learned quite a bit about this over the past 2 mos.

Cheers!

Dr Mike
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jerry hong
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Joined: 20 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: 2004.01.21(Wed)3:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

what is KH and gh?
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Dr Mike
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Joined: 20 Dec 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO

PostPosted: 2004.01.21(Wed)11:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

KH is "carbonate" hardness or "alkalinity". An important parameter in stabilization or "buffering" capacity of you water (I.e., so your pH doesn't change too much).

GH is general hardness (composed of dissolved ions usually Ca and Mg and the like). It tells you basically how "soft or hard" you water is.

Both these reading are important parameters to know, esp if you're going to "dump" a lot of chemicals such as "pH up/down" or Neutral buffer, etc. If you don't know these parameters (GH & KH) you can end up doing more HARM than good by using such chemicals.

They are measured in "degrees" of hardness (1-20, etc...a German numbering system) or in concentrations (like parts per million, or ppm for short)...1 degree KH or GH = approx 18-19 ppm. Usually these parameters "mirror" each other in most commercial water sources, but if you are unfortunate like me, you can have fairly "hard" water (I.e., GH 10-15), but still have a low KH (1-3), unusual...but depends on how your local treatment plant "processes" your water.

Nonetheless, extremely important if you start playing around with variables by using "quick remedy" chemicals.

Hope this helps Smile

Dr Mike
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cindywindy
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Joined: 08 Nov 2003
Location: Tucson, Arizona

PostPosted: 2004.01.22(Thu)8:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

Using chemicals to bring up KH is often met with resistance from your water's natural buffering capacity and can prove not only temporary, but stressful for your fish. Additives that help buffer water often cause a "rebound" fluctuation a day or two later, creating the need for the addition of more and more chemicals which can ultimately set your tank up for a significant algae bloom from the added phosphates and open the door to stress-related diseases in your fish. I just don't think it's a good idea when there are other, natural methods to use that do not create these side effects.

If your goal is to raise the hardness and buffering capacity of your water, I would recommend placing a few tablespoons of crushed coral (found in the substrate department of most LFS) in a mesh baggie (found in the paint-straining department of Home Depot) and place the baggie in your filter compartment to let the water run over it. Crushed coral will add dissolved calcium carbonate to your water increasing its hardness, but will also increase your pH in the process. This is unavoidable, as any agent that increases one will subsequently increase the other ... and this may not be a healthy proposition for your Discus.
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Irons
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Joined: 27 Feb 2003
Location: Buffalo, NY

PostPosted: 2004.01.22(Thu)10:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm thinking that the lack of KH would be the bigger issue. That would cause your pH could be just about anything with no KH and GH. It sounds like you have something eating up your KH and GH. Test the driftwood alone in a bucket of water after 48 hours. What else is in the "bad" tank?
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2004.01.22(Thu)15:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike it seems to me that tank two is the result of loss of KH from lots of biological filtration. Nitric acids produced by really efficient bio-filters and "eat-up" KH. The "evidence" of the high levels of nitrate would support this idea. Stepping up the frequency and amounts of partial water changes should slowly restore KH and thus see an increase in pH too. Note this isn't a quick fix. With the amount of acid in the tank adding bicarbonate would only offer a short term rise in both. Until the acids are diluted you won't be able overcome their effect and truly begin to increase alkalinity.
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taxlady
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Joined: 05 Nov 2003
Location: Iowa, USA

PostPosted: 2004.01.23(Fri)14:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm thinking that the lack of KH would be the bigger issue. That would cause your pH could be just about anything with no KH and GH. It sounds like you have something eating up your KH and GH. Test the driftwood alone in a bucket of water after 48 hours. What else is in the "bad" tank?


IMHO, I tend to agree with Irons on this; from personal experience. As a first step, I would test the driftwood in it's own water for 48 hours to rule that out.

Smile taxlady
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number6
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: 2004.01.23(Fri)14:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

taxlady wrote:
IMHO, I tend to agree with Irons on this; from personal experience. As a first step, I would test the driftwood in it's own water for 48 hours to rule that out.

Except that KH and GH are indirectly linked to pH and not directly. I can acheive water in a tank of pH 7.6, KH 0, GH 0 without trying and it will be stable there! Smile

the bogwood is obviously producing the acids to take thepH to 5.5 once the KH has reached 0. A test of such would be to place the bogwood into pure R/O water and test after a few days. It doesn't take much to alter pH with a KH of 0

But I think (mostly as only a fool questions Steve! Smile ) that Steve's post on the 0 KH is the explanation of why KH hits 0 allowing trace acids to alter the pH.
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taxlady
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PostPosted: 2004.01.23(Fri)19:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Discus Man,

If you would be so kind, could you please explain a couple things? Smile

Quote:
Except that KH and GH are indirectly linked to pH and not directly. I can acheive water in a tank of pH 7.6, KH 0, GH 0 without trying and it will be stable there!


Can you please explain how is it possible to have the pH be "stable" with a KH 0 - isn't KH your "buffering capacity" that helps stabilize the pH? With a KH of 0 aren't you going to have subsequent pH "swings"?

Quote:
the bogwood is obviously producing the acids to take thepH to 5.5 once the KH has reached 0.


That was the point I was trying to make; albeit not too comprehensibly, I guess. Smile

Quote:
A test of such would be to place the bogwood into pure R/O water and test after a few days. It doesn't take much to alter pH with a KH of 0.


Wouldn't his source water be a more accurate measurement of any "swings"?

Quote:
But I think (mostly as only a fool questions Steve! ) that Steve's post on the 0 KH is the explanation of why KH hits 0 allowing trace acids to alter the pH.


Okay. Steve has helped me on numerous occasions. I value his expertise and opinions. I was not questioning Steve's response. Nor telling Mike to disregard it. I was merely suggesting that Mike try soaking the driftwood in his tap water (source water). This is because after much trial and error, and help from Steve and others on the board, I figured out the driftwood is where my problems originated from - re: Neutral pH 7.0, KH 4-5 dropping to pH -6.0, KH 0, and months of cloudy water. Maybe I didn't make myself clear Smile ...so I will clarify it now: water changes, as Steve said, in conjunction with finding out if the driftwood is the culprit, to me, are both sound advice.

Thanks,
taxlady
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