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Additives (was Acclimating to pH differences)

Hi folks,

Good thread on slow (drip) acclimation, but I would caution that pH
isn't the usual culprit in causing new-fish shock. I have received
anecdotal evidence that large changes (>> one unit) *have* shocked
sensitive fish, but that goes against my experiences. *If* tds (total
dissolved solids) is the same in both waters, sudden pH differences
don't seem to bother most fish at all. They don't seem to be able to
feel pH alone, even with huge swings. Drop tds abruptly, and they die
quick! Another Aquamyth, IMHO. 

pH roughly correlates with hardness which sort of follows tds, so sell a
pH kit which is easier to use, and tell the customer that pH must match.
I know for a fact that it doesn't *have* to match in all cases.

I breed a lot of killies, Bettas, and other low pH fish, often in
ultra-soft, low tds, pH=5 water. My tap water is mildly hard (270-300
ppm tds) and alkaline (pH > 7.5) so I get lots of chances to see big
swings. I mix and match from two trash barrels, one with RO water, and
one with tap.

Sudden change in osmotic pressure between the water and the cells of the
fish (particularly in the gills) seems to be the phenomenon that causes
the most abrupt damage. If the water suddenly increases in tds, the
surface cells are dehydrated while the complicated three-level osmotic
regulation system adjusts to retain body fluids. Going the other way,
they may take up so much water the cells burst before the barriers can
be adjusted. That's why dumping fish into softer (lower tds) water kills
more quickly. The dehydration doesn't seem to be quite as damaging. It
takes a few hours for complete adjustment, either way, for most species.

It may take steelhead trout or salmon a day or two to adjust from ocean
to stream. They are adjusting to tds difference, and not just pH (which
is often about the same). That's why they hang around the mouths of

What does all this have to do with plants? Well, my water is "purified"
with chloramine, so I need to neutralize it before the fish contact it.
Not wishing to vigorously aereate for three weeks, I have been using
"Amquel" and "Novaqua" in both barrels. Lately, I dropped the "Novaqua"
for it is supposed to tie up metals, and I have been suspecting it of
removing trace minerals that my plants need. It's the "Amquel" that
really has me worried.

According to John Kuhns, the inventor, it leaves the bound ammonia
available for bacterial conversions to nitrites/nitrates. He says they
have no evidence of whether the loose binding leaves the ammonia
available for plants! Maybe it is grabbing the fish-produced ammonia my
plants need!

I was using two carbon filters in series to remove the chloramine for
some months. When I changed to using the "Amquel"/"Novaqua" combo, I
perceived a noticeable drop in plant growth and vigor. In particular, I
even had Java moss dying where it had been thriving! Dropping "Novaqua"
has been too recent to see effects for sure. Plant starvation is a
slooooow process!

In my RO barrel, adding the suggested amounts of both chemicals raised
my tds only from 30 ppm to 50. Not a big deal, IMO. Normal variations in
the tap swamped the small difference there.


Are we killing our plants when we use "Prime," "Amquel," "Novaqua,"
"Stress Coat," o/e? Curious minds want to know. If the chemistry gurus
here can give a clue, it will help me to decide whether I have to go
back to the carbon cannister filters. [I'm reluctant, for a mistake with
them was deadly to a really nice bunch of Rainbow breeders that I had
kept for years. Once burned, etc...]



Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntley1 at home dot com

Liberalism is totalitarianism with a human face.
                                  Thomas Sowell

Compassionate conservatism -- a kinder, gentler bigotry?