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[APD] RE: peat moss / ph

Anna R. Dunster wrote:
> aww man, and from what I was reading, I thought peat would be the
> /simplest/ way...

Well its pretty simple; put some peat in your substrate or in a cotton
bag in your aquarium. Your pH will remain at ~6.8 indefinitely until you
have changed enough water so that the organic acids from the peat are
diluted too much. That probably won't happen for about 6 months. You
will know if you test your pH monthly or weekly.

> it just doesn't seem easy at all to adjust ph :(

No you can't adjust it to just any pH value, just keep it at about 6.8.
That's ok because that's an ideal pH for fish, plants and for the
beneficial redox reactions which occur in a soil substrate.

> am I correct that peat is how the 'black water' aquarium is achieved
> is this from another process?

Black water is from the same types of organic acids as released by peat.
You can buy it in an expensive bottle or get it from a few pennies worth
of peat.

> I don't want to do complex math and chemistry whenever I do a water
> change, I just want to be able to find a way to keep my ph at a more
> or less stable level, significantly lower than my tap water.  maybe
> those desires aren't reconcilable.

We don't need to perform math in order to grow things! We need the math
to understand the theories that help us to predict what will happen. We
can predict without the math on the basis of experience.

If your planted aquarium is small and not exposed to sunlight or other
overly intense light, then you may not require CO2 supplementation aside
from that generated by the decomposition of peat and soil in your
substrate. You may achieve a stable pH by having some peat in your
substrate and by adding a small amount of fresh peat around the 6 month
mark or so. YOU need to establish that by experimentation because we
can't predict it accurately.

Your hard water is not the problem with the pH; hard water is good for
growing plants. The plants will remove minerals from your water and this
is why you will need to replace water on a regular basis.

Your pH may be unstable, or rising because you don't have enough CO2
going into your system and certain of your plants are getting CO2 from
the carbonate hardness of your water via a process called biogenic
decalcification. This can push your pH from the tap value of around 8 up
to values as high as 11. Those very high values are not in themselves
harmful except that they make ammonia more toxic and adversely affect
beneficial chemical reactions in the aquarium.

You might want to get ahold of Diana Walstad's book, "Ecology of the
Planted Aquarium". She discusses growing plants using soil substrates
even using natural ambient lighting. Just avoid the southern windows.
I've tried using a north facing window and that's not enough light. Some
type of mesh shading on an east or west window might be about right. The
trick with using soil to get CO2 from decomposition is that you want to
avoid strong lighting. 2 WPG is too high in those situations. If you
have 2 WPG or higher, you need to supplement CO2 in my opinion.

Steve Pushak

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