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White Christmas in My Tank

I set up a new 50 gal last Sunday and got it half planted.  After a couple 
of days, I took my first readings.  The tank KH was undiscernable and pH was 
<6.0, beyond the range of all my pH tests.  I was baffled.  My little 7 gal. 
is about 6.8 pH and KH of 4-5 deg. last I checked. So, I decided to check 
the tapwater.  turns out it's currently neutral and has an undiscernable KH. 
  (I figured the drop to <6.0 pH in the new tank was due to two pieces of 
bogwood and the CO2 I was playing with).

I had to do something.  So, I turned off the C02 and added a couple of 
teaspoons of crushed coral into my canister filter.  After 2 days, the 
readings remained about the same:  pH about 6.0 and KH still undiscernable.

Deciding the crushed coral wasn't cutting it, I went to the homebrew store 
and got some food grade CaCO2.  This stuff has been pulverised to the 
consistency of flour and cheap ($1.25 or so for 5 oz.).  I took 2 
teaspoonsful (Karen Randall suggested in earlier posts that 1/2 tsp brings 
the KH of 50l up by 1 deg. and I have something like 200l) and stirred it 
into a pitcher filled with the tank water.  I had no idea how much would 
dissolve and the answer was very little.  Determined to press on, I poured 
the pitcher into the tank.  I got a beautiful colloidal suspension and 
everything dissapeared into a milky white cloud.  Damn!  That was last 

This morning the water has cleared and the CaCO3 partially dissolved and 
partially settled.  The tank looks either (and take your pick) like someone 
had split a whole bunch of blow into it, or a twisted aquascaper's idea of a 
winter wonderland with tropical plants.  Everything is coated in a thin 
white powder like (here another one!) a made up geisha.  Okay, I exaggerate, 
but its powdery out there!  pH is over 8.0 and KH between 1-2 deg.  I figure 
KH will keep rising as the CaCo3 dissolves.  To counteract the pH, I've 
turned on the CO2.

Well, it sure has been fun so far.  Luckily I don't have any fish in the 
tank yet; I don't know how fish would have taken the white cloud.  Probably 
not very good for gills.  I hope I can get the water stabilized soon.  The 
wife and kids keep bugging me about when I going to get fish in!

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