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I think I committed a sin..... rebuffed pHosphate buffers

The shy gardener known only as fish7days asked how to
buffer his pH if he add CO2:

If your pH drops well below them, then your probably don't
have a lot of carbonates in your water.

You can use calcium carbonate, which doesn't dissolve
readily but provides calcium (in case your plants happen to
need more of that) or sodium bicarbonate, which dissolves
very readily, is cheap and easy to find.  You can buy
calcium carbonate as a powder, as seashells, ground bone. 
Sodium bicarbonate is in the grocery store in the familiar
Arm & Hammer box.

George and Karla Booth's excellent planted tank web site 
( http://www.frii.com/~gbooth/AquaticConcepts/ ) spells out
how much of either has how much effect on hardness:

"One teaspoon (about 6 grams) of sodium bicarbonate
(NaHCO3) per 50 liters of water will increase KH by 4
degrees and will not increase general hardness. Two
teaspoons (about 4 grams) of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) per
50 liters of water will increase both KH and GH by 4
degrees. Different proportions of each can be used to get
the correct KH/GH balance dictated by the fish and plants
in the tank. Since it is difficult to accurately measure
small quantities of dry chemicals at home, a test kit
should be used to verify the actual KH and GH that is
achieved. "  

But you should peruse that web site and the info there on
water chemistry and CO2 and pH.  It doesn't take long to
read but there's a lot of info packed in there that you'll
refer back to it again and again.   Not to mention those
pictures of their planted tanks.

Tetra and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals KH and GH kits are two
that are inexpensive and very easy to use.

Scott H.

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