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Where does the Sodium go?
Many of us use sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) to boost the KH in our
tanks. The formula is NaHCO3. If the plants require more CO2 than what is
available (especially when the CO2 tank is empty and we dont notice it for
a while), then some/all of the plants will generally start using the
AVAILABLE bicarbonates. If they are in the form of bicarbonates from
additions of CaCO3, then we will observe biogenic decalcification (ie. a
crust or calcium marl will form on the leaves).
Now here is my question. Suppose that we have a combination of sodium
bicarbonates and other calcium compounds. Suppose further that the Ca
concentrations have gone down, so the HCO3 is still mostly in equilibrium
with the Na+. Will the plants still be able to use the HCO3- as an
alternative source of carbon, and if so, what happens to the Na+
--- does the Na+ go into the plant? or the same place that butterflys go
when it rains?
--- does the Na+ find something else to dance with, or does it stay
attracted to Na and then is the HCO3 unable to become CO2?
Once, my tank got really out of whack after my CO2 tank was depleted. My
bolbitus never recovered and many plants were not the same for months. I
even had some algae. :-) I never tested for Ca, but it could have been
low. Was this because of the sodium that had no where to go. Did my plants
have a heart attack?
This issue of aquatic equilibrium is clearly a question for one of our
Neil Frank / Aquarian Subjects
Interesting old books and magazines (but most plant books are already gone)