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[APD] RE: Ca/K+

At the risk of sounding like a chemical moron, I am going to wade into this discussion, if only to give some of my very recent observations on just this topic. Some of you may remember that I was looking for a way to add additional calcium to my tank, as I was finding that the shells on my Red Ramshorn Snails were growing thin and often whitish. I believe this was a sympton of not enough calcium.

I was using calcium nitrate to try to add calcium, but was finding that it was pushing the nitrates up higher than I wanted/needed. I was using Potassium Carbonate to increase the carbonate hardness (and also the K level), and Magnesium Sulphate & Calcium Chloride to raise the general hardness level.

Rex Grigg suggested I try some Calcium Carbonate to raise the calcium level, and reduce the Potassium Carbonate equivalently so as to not raise the kH too much. I found a cheap supply, tried it, and the results have been AWESOME (Thanks Rex!).

The new growth on the snails shells is Red/Brown as it should be, and the snails are populating the tank very nicely now. I had some algae before, but this is rapidly disappearing now. I would hesitate to say, though, that it is due to more/less K or Ca, but rather the fact that my algae-eating force is much happier! My plants, though, do seem to be growing nicer than ever before, and they have even begun pearling again, and that could also be due to the fact that they are not competing with algae anymore.

One final observation about chemistry. Someone a while back mentioned that Shrimps did not seem to fair well when Calcium Chloride was used. My observations would have to agree with that. I have never been able to keep shrimp in my tank happy and healthy, and I have used Calcium Chloride for a calcium source. I intend to remove the calcium chloride, go with Calcium Carbonate, and then re-introduce some shrimps to see if this works better. I expect it will.

So the conclusion? I am not sure if there is a level of toxicity with Potassium, but a minimum level of calcium seems to be important, especially if you have snails, etc.

Ed Dumas

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