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[APD] pH reduction

Locally here, I have water with a very high pH  (measuring between 8.5 and 
9.5).  This is high enough to kill most plants (not directly, just that 
growth is so slow that it gets covered with algae and dies), including 
duckweed.  In some tanks with aeration, I can safely add vinegar (every 3 
days or so), and my plant growth is FAR better.  Easy plants like Java 
moss, Java ferns and Vals are now growing, about doubling in the last 
month.  However, in other tanks, (small ones), without any filtration (for 
bettas), the vinegar causes a nasty bacterial bloom that leaves a white 
sludge on top (and seems to be hard on the fish.)  Is there a better acid 
that would be safe to add?  I have ingredients for PMDD, but adding 
nutrients just results in algae blooms, at least any time until after I've 
got the pH down to a reasonable level.  I've tried addition of CO2, but it 
doesn't lower the pH enough to allow good plant growth.
I'm trying to apply Diana Walstad's methods as described in her book, 
which is what suggested to me that the pH of the water was the problem. 
Her book as a table of tests she performed at various pH levels indicating 
that many plants stop growing a little bit above pH 8.   I've added soil 
to most of the tanks (which helps the pH problem somewhat.)  In one tank, 
the soil change keeps the pH under 8 naturally, which is fine, but only in 
that one tank.  Plant growth has never been a problem in that tank. 
Does anyone have any ideas?

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