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Re: Lowering pH when adding hard water nutrients to soft water

My initial thoughts after reading Susi Barber's post about her water
problems is that she should avoid adding any sodium bicarbonate, which only
raises the pH and does not add any nutrients the plants can use.  I would
start with the Vancouver water and add small amounts of dolomite, which
should supply enough calcium.  It would be worth her while to get a calcium
testing kit so that she would know how much calcium is in her tank water.
Presumably the Vancouver water is acidic if no hardness salts are added.
If it isn't acidic, then it may have sodium bicarbonate in it, in which
case it may be best to switch to rain water or reverse osmosis water.  If
the Vancouver water is acidic, I would add only enough dolomite to get the
pH to the desired value.  That should supply enough calciunm for the
plants.  A little bit of magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) will supply
magnesium and sulfur without affecting the pH, and some potassium chloride
or potassium sulfate will supply needed potassium without affecting pH. If
new growth is pale, some form of chelated iron should help.  the fish
should supply the rest.

Vinegar won't permanently lower the pH because it is an organic acid,
acetic acid.  The acetate is food for bacteria, and it is the bacteria that
are probably the cause of the "little white floaty bits".

Paul Krombholz, in bone dry central Mississippi