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Author Topic: GH & KH  (Read 2868 times)
Sheralyn
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« on: June 20, 2016, 07:58:41 PM »

After having issues with my livebearers in the discussion topic "Water change PH", I have tested my water with my new hardness test kit and got these results:

Tap water -                    3kh   5gh
livebearer tank -             6kh  5gh
guppy breeder/fry tank    3kh  6gh

Is it possible to keep Central American livebearers in this water? Can I (should I) try to increase the hardness, or do I need to change over to fish which will be at home in these parameters?

Since I already have 7 mollies, 3 male guppies, and 5 platies which seem to be holding their own at the moment, I would like to try if it's not too complicated.
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russ
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2016, 09:44:39 PM »

In your earlier post you had asked this:

"Can you tell me - is 47.8 ppm Hardness soft water?"

That is approx. 2.67dH. Yes you have very soft water.

Same formula is used for both GH and KH.

This may seem like a silly question, but what scale is your test kits using?

Also, until we can really get to the bottom of some of the issues you are (or have) experienced in your aquariums, DO NOT DO MAJOR WATER CHANGES. Change your water as you have first been doing.

Karen has a most excellent article on the subject here:
http://www.badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/aquarium-water-chemistry-explained-article94.html
 


* No color image.jpg (2.99 KB, 76x70 - viewed 159 times.)
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2016, 08:15:17 AM »

It looks like this:

GH & KH CONVERSION CHART

# of Drops  ºdKH     ppm GH/KH
1                   1           17.9
2                   2           35.8
3                   3           53.7
4                   4           71.6
5                   5           89.5
6                   6           107.4
7                   7           125.3
8                   8           143.2
etc.

So that would mean 3 drops kh = 3dkh or 53.7 ppm (or between 35.8 & 53.7)
and 5 drops gh = 5dkh or 89.5 (or between 71.6 & 89.5)     

is that right?

I did add just a little (3 teaspoons) of baking soda to the livebearer tank a few days ago. That is probably why the kh is higher. I've lost so many fish I thought what the heck; it probably can't get any worse. But right or wrong on my part it did seem to help; at least I haven't lost any more fish. I did a 15 gallon change last night and they seemed fine about it. I feel if I could get the hardness up just a little they would not mind the water changes and then I could take care of them like I should be doing. I really want someone to tell me to get some crushed coral, oyster shell or limestone in there.  Wink

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russ
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2016, 04:58:39 PM »

Hi Sheralyn,

That wasn't quite the scale type I was referring to, but that is OK. While I kind of went along with the crushed coral idea in the past, I would not rely on it too heavily in the present. You actually may be better off with limestone. I'm also a fan of crushed oyster shell, but oh man, can that be a mess if not careful. I washed and rinsed mine to get the dusty particles, then loaded in an old nylon hosiery foot and let it dangle in the sump. Careful when adding. Add either the limestone or oyster shell over a period of time while testing and adjusting accordingly (and watching your fish's reactions of course).
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2016, 06:25:54 PM »

Thanks Russ,
I copied the test result chart straight off the paper, that's all they had.
I will try the oyster shell first as I can get it easily. Thanks for the lookout on the mess factor; I hate grit in my bare bottom tanks.  lame I'm going to put it in a fine nylon filter bag in the Aquaclear filter. I also want to DIY some aquarium plants using cement bases, that should help also.

Thanks again!
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2016, 09:12:37 PM »

I have added the oyster shell. So funny - I caught myself sitting in front of the aquarium staring and waiting - like I thought some great miraculous thing was going to take place with trumpets and whatnot LOL.

I was wondering.... does this mean I will always need to do small frequent WC so as not to disturb the balance?
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rasaqua
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2016, 10:34:39 PM »

You will need to establish a baseline mainly by a little experimentation. Try to determine how many ounces of oyster shell you have per actual water volume in your tank. then measure changes in hardness over a couple weeks, then change water and test to see if change or no change. If no change then either add more oyster shell or change more or less water at a time and keep testing. It will take time, but that is just part of the hobby happy
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 04:42:39 PM »

Just an fyi- crushed coral, limestone, chicken grit, oyster shell- they are all basically the same thing- calcium carbonate. This is a two way additive in that the calcium will work to increase GH while the carbonate will increase the KH. Increasing the KH will drive the pH towards and equilibrium value of about 8.2.

The way it works is it dissolves slowly into the water. So if one needs only a minimal effect, a bag of crushed coral etc. in a bag in one's filter may do the trick. I used about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of coral in a 50 gal. tank to bump the KH a bit as I was adding pressurized CO2 for plants and the KH would drop, I was worried about a pH crash. If one is using a small amount in a filter it needs to be replenished at regular intervals. In more demanding applications such as a riift lake cichlid tank, calcium carbonate material is used as all or part of the substrate. But here fairly hard water and a pH over 8 is the goal.

Calcium behaves oddly in water in that how much of it will be dissolved in the water varies based on the other parameters.

Magnesium, aka Epsom salt, will help raise GH without affecting KH.

I am not a fan of sodium bicarbonate unless it is for rift lake or other hard water fish. Sodium is almost completely absent in soft water environments. So fish like plecos, corys or other  S.A. fish will have real problems with it.

Quote
Hardening Your Water (Raising GH and/or KH)
The following measurements are approximate; use a test kit to verify you've achieved the intended results. Note that if your water is extremely soft to begin with (1 degree KH or less), you may get a drastic change in pH as the buffer is added.

To raise both GH and KH simultaneously, add calcium carbonate (CaCO3). 1/2 teaspoon per 100 liters of water will increase both the KH and GH by about 1-2 dH. Alternatively, add some sea shells, coral, limestone, marble chips, etc. to your filter.

To raise the KH without raising the GH, add sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), commonly known as baking soda. 1/2 teaspoon per 100 Liters raises the KH by about 1 dH. Sodium bicarbonate drives the pH towards an equilibrium value of 8.2.

The thing to understand about sodium is that it doesn't affect GH but it does affect conductivity/TDS.
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2016, 07:01:26 AM »

I would like to be able to do a larger water change weekly on this tank same as I do for the goldies. Might it actually be more consistent to determine the amount of epsom salt required per gallon to bring the GH up to comfortable standards for livebearers and add it when I do a WC?
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2016, 08:34:47 AM »

not all at once of course...but say x amount makes 5 gallons correct - then I figured how much was needed for 50% WC (37 gallons) and added say 1/10 of that the first week, and increased it by 1/10 each weekly change? Checking it every time. Or something like that anyway.
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mchambers
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2016, 11:20:46 AM »

Your water would be great for most South American fish, or West Africans!  I'm jealous.
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2016, 11:38:54 AM »

LOL - I wish you had it and mine was harder!

OK- somebody tell me:

Epsom salt dose for cichlid water - 1 tablespoon @ 10 gallons (got this off the net; figure it's a good starting point)

=  3 1/2 tablespoon per 50% WC (37.5 gallons)

10 teaspoon equals 3.3 tablespoon
      so.......
1 teaspoon = 1/10 full dose (or near enough)
                so......
begin with 1 teaspoon per 50% WC  (37.5 gallons) ????? unless my math is off
and increase by 1 teaspoon w/ each week with WC until....... fish are happy
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2016, 02:48:18 PM »

NO - wait a minute - I got excited and got ahead of myself again. Russ said hold off on the major WC, also, 50% WC and a bit of epsom salt might be too much at once. I am going to change same as usual, between 10-15 gallons and add 1 teaspoon dissolved epsom and wait and see.
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2016, 08:41:40 AM »

If you are going to do this the first suggestion I have is invest about $20 in a TDS meter. I would suggest this one which is what I have used for years. http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/tds3.html You should be able to find one delivered for about $20. The API GH/KH kit will run you about $6 online plus shipping if you do not hit a site's minimum order for free shipping.

Next, I would still use a combination of additives not just Epsom. I can tell you how how have done this in the past. I needed to trigger seasonal spawning plecos. This required have dry and rainy season with clearly different parameters. I did not want to get involved with RO water so I chose a different approach. I would harden my tap water and raise the pH a bit to simulate the dry season. Then I could use my tap as is to bring on the rainy season. The first builds up over time and the second comes on rapidly and changes params quickly.

I would batch my changing water in a 20 gal. can. I used a H.O.T. Magnum filter with the carbon container but I filled it with crushed coral. Then I ran it for 18 to 24 hours on the can. This was usually good for an increase in TDS of about 20 ppm. Then I added Epsom. I would add a tablespoon and let it mix in by keeping the filter running. I then tested the TDS again. I would have to add a bit more Epsom which was based on how much change the tablespoon provided. As I got close to my desired TDS the last thing I did was to add a small pinch of baking soda. Normally, 1/2 teaspoon per 26 gallons raises the KH by about 1 dH. I was adding about 1/8 teaspoon to 20 gals.

I used the TDS meter every step I made to see what the new parameters were. The nice part of it all is as I began doing this every week I got a pretty good feel for how much Epsom to add and that made things go faster. Also, on those occasions where I moved things too far up in the changing water, fixing things was simple. take some of the water out of the can and replace it will unchanged water.

I would suggest you can do your basic changes to get the tank to where you want it faster than 10%. Don't forget to add the proper amount of dechlor.

I would work to bring the tank up to its final desired parameters over about 2 weeks. I would do 20% changes every 3 days so 5 changes over 15 days. After that you should be fine at 50%. Next, you need to test what happens in the tank over the week between changes. You want to see if there is any slippage or increase in the parameters over what you expect. remember, water makes chemistry become different. Sometime what we expect to happen is not what actually does. The only way to stay on track is to test.

You will be so happy to have that TDS meter instead of doing it all with GH tests which won't really give you the whole picture. pH should be checked on and off as well so you get a feel for what that it is doing. This is less important than the TDS but you do not want it to move beyond a given range.

Lastly, what I now do is in the opposite direction you are looking to go. I am making water softer and acid. This is much harder to do in a stable fashion the raising things. However, you still need to monitor to be safe. You do not want to under or over shoot your desired parameter range by much.




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Sheralyn
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« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2016, 06:40:38 PM »

OY.........   that's a lot of water tinkering. I work a full time job, come home and cook supper most nights (the real kind- not hot dogs). I also have other hobbies. I am rethinking the whole thing. I obviously don't have the advanced knowledge and I don't particularly want to learn a lot of complicated stuff at this time in my life.  lazyboy The aquariums are supposed to be my pleasure, and I don't want to turn it into a chore. Dear Hubby wholeheartedly agrees.

Most of my fish-keeping over the years involved livebearers, in fact the few tetras etc. I looked at I thought were rather plain and/or uninteresting. But of late I have been taking a second look, and re-evaluating my choices. I like the white skirts, the tiger barbs, the neons and the pictus catfish. And I especially like the silver dollars.  inlove  I think I will just rehome my current fish and start over. I honestly think it would be the wise decision.

Everyone here has been so helpful and kind, especially TwoTank, despite my earlier faux pas LOL. I have also learned a great deal, so it has certainly been well worth the time spent. I have a feeling I will have lots of questions about compatibility etc. within the soft water fish world!
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Pat Mary
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« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2016, 07:24:45 PM »

I have stayed out of this thread for the most part.  The reason is because I kept thinking that you were a casual hobbyist and not someone who was really into water conditions.  This is not to infer that you are not interested.....this means that you are a hobbyist that is like most others.  To me. this means that. if water conditions are good for some species, it is good to stick with those species.  If you try to match your water with the fish you want to have, that is for people who are into breeding those fish.  You will forever be trying to keep your water good for the species you have and can mess it up one time and lose your fish.

In my opinion, if you have soft water, get fish that like soft water.  If you don't like that type of fish, don't keep fish.  That is just my opinion.   

I don't want you to think that I am being nasty or anything but I just feel that you were were getting deeper into the hobby than you wanted to.  I hope you stay with it but just try to have fun and not overthink it.  Smiley
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2016, 10:37:39 PM »

You are right. I am a casual hobbyist in that I don't want my entire life to revolve around my aquariums. If all I had to do to maintain hard water was add a teaspoon of epsom salt to every 5 gallon bucket I pull out and replace, no problem. And basically that's what I thought it would be. But it appears to be much more of a science than that. I enjoy my fish, and I enjoy keeping the tanks clean and taking the best care of them I can. But that's enough for me.

I just always had livebearers and that's what I wanted. I thought those tetras like the head & tail lights, etc. were ugly and boring. The only ones I ever liked were the Tiger Barbs. But because of the situation, I began to look into soft water fish with new eyes, and have found several that I like. It makes more sense to change over. And then it will be fun again.
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2016, 08:49:06 AM »

I do hope that no-one feels that I have been "wasting" their time; I've always thought one should explore all avenues and ask lots of questions - so you don't just walk around stupid the rest of your life. I've learned quite a bit about water chemistry - including that changing things can be a pita. nerd
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mchambers
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« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2016, 08:03:05 PM »

I'd definitely go with soft water fish.  You could get beautiful corydoras, apistogramma, and tetras, for example.  Or maybe some dwarf West African cichlids?  German rams?  Obviously, it depends on what kind of fish are available to you, but you have some great options.

As I said upthread, I'm a little jealous, because my tap water is pretty neutral, and I'd like to have it be softer.
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Sheralyn
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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2016, 10:09:42 AM »

Thanks, yes it's definitely the right choice.
I guess I just needed to explore all my options. I only have access to whatever the local box stores have in the way of fish; and sure can't order online! .... Dear Hubby would have a cow.
The Apistos are BEAUTIFUL. Maybe someday  proud  But right now (especially till I see how it goes; I've had a lot of water problems and death) I'm keeping it simple. The tentative plan as of now: Silver Dollars, Skirt tetras, Neons, Ottos, Corys. I put a stocking query in the Beginner section.

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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2016, 10:34:09 AM »

I do not feel like I wasted anything. I do feel as if I have helped make it clearer why most fish keepers do not want to get involved in seriously changing their tap parameters. I think that you learned exactly what you needed in order to make an informed decision about in what direction you prefer to move. Plus you now know a bunch about water chemistry and the hobby in general. With luck, other fish keepers may read this thread and also learn something helpful. All of this means I have not wasted a thing for my part. I cannot speak for other posters.

Much as I hate to be so trivial, I have to repeat that old saying, "The only stupid questions are the ones you don't ask."

Quote
There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - Carl Sagan.

You never know what you might decide to try 5 or 10 years down the road. You could be running a pH 4.3 tank with wild altum angels or a reef tank full of corals and critters. This hobby is endless in its possibilities.
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