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Lowering pH when adding hard water nutrients to soft water
I am hoping that someone with more experience will be able to give me some
I live in Vancouver, which has very soft water with no hardwater nutrients. I
have very small tanks, a 3 gal and 6 gal Eclipse. My small group of plants
initially grew well, using a potting soil covered by gravel substrate, but
then all but the hygrophila deteriorated, with yellow leaves with green veins,
and/or tiny holes spreading over the leaf until there is only the structure of
the leaf left, which has turned white by this time.
I am trying to get the plants growing healthily as an end in itself, but also
to get rid of thread algae - and I don't have room for a FFF!
I researched and found that the problems were more than likely due to the lack
of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. After fiddling round with dolomite in
the filter and on the substrate, adding calcium via bits of ground up calcium
tablet, and Epsom salts, I found it too hard to try to work out how much of
each to add in such small tanks; also, the pH kept going sky high. So I took
out the dolomite, and am using a product called Equilibrium, which has greened
up the hygrophila and sword plant, the Ceratophyllum is showing a few minimal
signs of life, and the Crypts have started to put out some more tiny leaves.
Equilibrium has 18.9% K, 4.3% Mg, 2.7% Ca, 0.47% Fe, and 0.08% Mn.
However: the pH obviously, is rising all the time with all of these buffering
additives - adding enough Equilibrium to get to 4 degrees GH, plus Bicarb soda
to get to KH of 4 (there is 0 calcium in the tap water), means a pH of 8+. I
was using vinegar to reduce it (from 8.0 + to my goal of 7.0), but too much
results in little white floaty bits precipitating out (at least, I think
that's what caused it!). I have used a bit of Proper pH the last day or two,
but read a post on the Krib today that says it has too much phosphate for
planted tanks, and recommends Seachem's Acid Buffer instead. But I don't have
acid water...??? By the way, I have no nitrates/nitrites showing, and a small
amount of phosphates (before adding the Proper pH, have run out of this test
temporarily, so couldn't check if it was causing a leap in phosphates).
Other solutions I have read about to reduce pH are to use peat, not really
practical for me unless I want brown water, I don't have the set-up to
pre-filter it with carbon to remove the tannins as suggested in a post on the
Krib; or to use CO2 - not something I really want to do, I prefer the low-tech
approach - any other ideas that will work in my small tank situation? Adding
a large amount of water with a pH of 6.5 (tap) takes it down to around 7 for
up to a day, then up it goes again.
Many thanks for any ideas,
Lions Bay, Vancouver