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soft water and low buffering capacity
I'm a lurking newbie (there, I said it) - so please go easy on me. Great
information on the digest, I'm really impressed. My apologies in advance
because I'm sure this is previously trodden ground but I have scanned the
FAQs, ran searches in the archives, and got my nose into all of my
reference books, etc. and still have some questions.
I am concerned about my soft, very soft water and low buffering capacity,
and was wondering if others out there also think I should be concerned.
My in-tank Tetra tests run GH 3, KH 1.5. (which is generally consistent
with what's coming out of the tap; the muni water report logs "hardness"
at (avg) 65.56 mg/l CaCO3 & "alkalinity" at (avg) 34.27 mg/l CaCO3).
Should I be concerned about the low buffering capacity/very soft water to
the point where I should adjust it?
My ph is 7.0 (muni avg is 7.1, though I checked the tap water this a.m.
and it was 7.5!). However, over time, my tank ph can creep up to maybe
7.3 or so (a guesstimate as my test kit only measures in .5 increments).
I have to check this creep again to validate - but I've not noticed any
wide swings or bounces (I guess I have other buffers at work).
I'm running a 20L w/twin 20W hood that is a fairly, newly set-up
(started in back in June) - looking real pretty. It's moderately
(heavily?) planted with an A. barteri var. nana, Crypts (three
"different" wendtii), java fern, a Bolbitus heudelotii and some S.
subulata , floating Limno-frogbit and moderate fish load (everything in
moderation). Dupla balls in targeted sites and supplementing with regular
liquid fertilizer. I do not "utilize purposeful carbon dioxide infusion"
and am recently getting 14ppm readings of CO2. In all fairness, they are
showing signs of growth, but somewhat tame. My tank's soft water seems to
be (generally) at the OK edge of the hardness ranges for the plants I'm
Since both my GH and KH are on the low end, what about a modest increase
in the GH & KH via adding calcium carbonate technique (as opposed to the
baking soda, avoiding a rise in ph)? Can I expect to see my ph rise using
calcium carbonate? And (this is not presented anywhere where I've seen
discussions of raising hardness) what are the consequences or dangers of
adding the calcium carbonate (or other hardeners) and do you add it at
regular intervals (every water change?)?
Should this be the way to go (i.e., increase the hardness), is there an
agent one can use that will enhance the buffering capacity but not
increase the ph? I like my ph right where it's at and in the fish
catalogs there are a confusion of buffer/conditioner products that also
seem to promote raising the ph too? Should I be looking at what I saw was
an "acid buffer" product?
Or, should I just try the "plop the seashell, marble, etc. in the tank
(or filter)" method and monitor your levels? Finally, is this an "if it
ain't broke, don't fix it," don't worry about it thing?
So, let me take a stab at my own questions: should I be concerned at my
GH/KH? Yes. Should I adjust/change it? No ("if I'm happy with my ph and
CO2 levels, No").
Any thoughts? Sorry for all the questions, and if this resurrects the
never-ending KH/GH/ph discussion...
tia -- drew