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RE: Jennifer's tanks

Jennifer Glover is asking for feedback on her tanks -

>Okay, I will admit to not being the most scientific minded person in the
world.  I
>have tended to skip to the next message, when the message gets too
technical with
>chemistry or physics.

Nothing wrong with not being scientifically inclinded - the world would
probably be a pretty boring place in everyone was anal. But sometimes, it
does make sense to pay attention. <g>

>And of course, like most things ignored or scorned, this is
>coming back to haunt me.

Serves you right! (hahahaha!)

>If you want to flame me for being a beginner
>and being too lazy to read a ton of books on water chemistry, please save
band width
>and send it to me direct.

I don't think anyone here is likely to flame you for being a beginner - we
all were beginners at one time or another. Laziness is something else again,
but I can get pretty lax myself at times, so I'm not here to hurl anything
at you for that either.

Now, onto your tanks. Specifically, Tank One:

< big snip - details of Tank One >

Some general comments - nice setup, good equipment (I'm a teckie, remember,
I like quality hardware). You don't give any indication as to your water
source (tap, R/O, de-ionized) or what, if anything, you are adding to the
water as a water conditioner. Normally, in most instances, GH and KH pretty
much follow one another closely. But this is not ALWAYS the case in natural
waters. GH is more important for your fish than for your plants but as
Calcium and Magnesium salts can contribute to GH and they are both essential
elements, you do want some GH in your water.

I hate the term KH because we never really know what is being discussed. I
prefer, in a discussion of planted tanks, to discuss Alkalinity (see the APD
archives for _extensive_ discussions of the difference between the two
terms). The Alkalinity of your aquarium's water is due in part to the
presence of Carbonates and Bicarbonates in the water. In conjunction with
CO2, they form an equilibrium situation with a particular pH value. If the
Alkalinity of your water is due entirely to Carbonate/Bicarbonate and has
not been artifically skewed by your using phosphate buffers, you are able to
determine the CO2 content of your water from knowing the KH of your water
and the pH of the water. There is a table on the KRIB with the proper
values. But there is one caution about relying on the table and that is the
precision and accuracy with which you KNOW the KH and pH values. Hobbyist
level test kits might not give you a precise enough determination of these
values to be of much use.

You are using the Dupla Visual CO2 Test - I have one of these and it works
by monitoring the pH of the water on a continuous basis via an indicator
fluid. Blue means that your system is CO2 deficient, Green means that your
CO2 level is OK and Yellow means that you are adding too much CO2. You state
that this is blue in your tank - try increasing the infusion rate by turning
up the CO2. You want it GREEN, not blue. If you are adding "buffer"
solutions or salts to your water (anything other than common Baking Soda)
this might be hard to achieve given your stated KH.

>Would adding aquarium salt raise GH?  I add a little for
>the live bearers, because somewhere I heard this was good for them.  Only
plants in
>this tank are Java Fern, Java Moss, a lone dwarf onion or valisnera, and
alot of
>wisteria.  Oh, and I stuck some balls of the laterite in at some point,
into the
>substrate, just to play around.  Nothing like making mud balls while
>Christmas carols, instead of baking cookies.  Is this how you know when
your hobby
>has gone too far?

Only when you try to serve your Christmas company laterite cookies after
their turkey.

Adding "aquarium salt" will raise the GH, but you shouldn't believe
everything that you hear. There is no reason to add "aquarium salt" to a
plant tank, not even one which contains livebearers - unless they are
specimens collected from brackish areas in the wild. You more than likely
got yours from your LFS, who got them from a fish farm in Florida, where
they are raised in 100% fresh water. Some livebearers can tolerate a bit of
salt in the water but very few need it. A wild caught P. velifera might like
it but commercial specimens have been raised in 100% fresh water for many
generations with no problems.

Other than that, it doesn't sound to me like you really have any problems -
your plants are growing well, your fish are happy and healthy. Good luck.

James Purchase