Re: CO2 and KH

Hello George, 
thank you for the discussion on the issue.

> How about Limnobium laevigatum ("Amazon Frogbit")?

Yes, could be. I think it's Limnobium.

> > CO2 and KH: I once thought that I could save CO2 by lowering KH. 
> True
> > If you want a certain CO2 level in the tank, say 15 mg/l, you would
> > have to add 15 mg/l plus whatever is needed to get past the buffering
> > capacity (KH).
> No, it's a continuous function, not a threshold. 

Yes, of course, you're right. It's not a threshold. I didn't explain my 
question very well.
The question is:
given that 


How much CO2 do you have to add to get a certain level of free CO2. How 
is this a function of HCO3-? I know the tables that show the 
relationship, I even found an equation that let's you calculate your own 
table for any given value of pH and KH. From the table it would appear 
that 15 mg/l of CO2 will result in a certain pH (7.3 at a KH of 
10). At a KH of 5, the pH will be lower at 15 mg/l of CO2. But how much 
CO2 do I have to add to get 15 mg/l in both cases. Is it the same? This 
would mean that no CO2 can be saved by lowering KH. Or does the available 
pool of HCO3- influence how much CO2 you have to add to get a certain 
ammount of free CO2?
I think it does, because the HCO3-+H+ part of the equation does not come 
from CO2 (or not mainly) in my tap water. it comes from Ca- carbonate. 
That's why the water is alkaline. So the HCO3- will take away a lot of H+ 
ions which would be generated by adding CO2 to the water. That's the 
buffering and the flow in the equation would go more to the right side. 
Hence, I need more CO2 at a higher HCO3- concentration to achieve a 
certain 'free' level of CO2. Am I right? But how much more would it take?

> > So _I think_ it would take more CO2 to get to a certain level of free
> > CO2 when the KH is high. 
> Still true. 

We agree here. 

> > Maybe it's just the same ammount of CO2
> > needed to reach 15 mg/l, no matter how high the KH is. Maybe the
> > difference would just be in a different resulting pH.
> True.  But you have a poor mental model of what's going on.  KH will
> raise pH and CO2 will lower pH.  You can select any two of the three
> variables to determine the third.  The KH/pH/CO2 relationship is fixed.

This and the previous statement seem to be contradictory.

> Since I have soft water, I can add baking soda to raise the KH to 4.5
> and inject 17 ppm of CO2 to achieve a pH of 6.9.  

Lucky you.

I will be away for a few days at a congress, so I won't be able to check 
my email until sunday.
But geuess what, folks: the algae problem seems to have slowed down a 
little. At least the green algae on the glass and on the gravel. Still 
some hairy algae on the plants, however.

Michael, Munich