Can I use JUST alkaline buffer?

Vollmond

Hello! I am almost, almost ready for fish! The tank is planted, Ammonia is going down, nitrifying by-products are going up, the frogbit is multiplying at an alarming rate.

But, before fish can happen, my last frontier is Halifax's ridiculously soft tapwater. My kH and gH are both about 1° (I'm using the API test kits) and my pH is fluctuating between 6 and 6.8 ish. So I'm working on getting my hardness and alkalinity stabilized.

My order of equilibrium and crushed coral arrived today, so I've added two 1/2cup mesh bags of coral, one on each side of the tank (I'm using sponge filters not a HOB with media space) and dosed equilibrium as per the instructions.

I'm going to be monitoring the parameters closely going forward, but based on my research, I should also be ordering alkaline buffer to raise my kH so my pH stabilizes. However, based on the info from Seachem, they want you to use it in conjunction with the acid buffer. I'm not starting with RO water, just very soft tap water, and I'm not trying to chase a specific pH (based on my stocking plans, AqAdvisor recommends between 6-7.8, so I'm more worried about the fluctuations than the exact number).

My question is: do I have to use the acid buffer if I'm not after a specific pH and am just looking to raise my kH for the sake of stabilizing my pH?
 

The2dCour

Hello! I am almost, almost ready for fish! The tank is planted, Ammonia is going down, nitrifying by-products are going up, the frogbit is multiplying at an alarming rate.

But, before fish can happen, my last frontier is Halifax's ridiculously soft tapwater. My kH and gH are both about 1° (I'm using the API test kits) and my pH is fluctuating between 6 and 6.8 ish. So I'm working on getting my hardness and alkalinity stabilized.

My order of equilibrium and crushed coral arrived today, so I've added two 1/2cup mesh bags of coral, one on each side of the tank (I'm using sponge filters not a HOB with media space) and dosed equilibrium as per the instructions.

I'm going to be monitoring the parameters closely going forward, but based on my research, I should also be ordering alkaline buffer to raise my kH so my pH stabilizes. However, based on the info from Seachem, they want you to use it in conjunction with the acid buffer. I'm not starting with RO water, just very soft tap water, and I'm not trying to chase a specific pH (based on my stocking plans, AqAdvisor recommends between 6-7.8, so I'm more worried about the fluctuations than the exact number).

My question is: do I have to use the acid buffer if I'm not after a specific pH and am just looking to raise my kH for the sake of stabilizing my pH?
I tried Equilibrium, did not like. Shot my GH up to 10 and KH still around 2-3. My water starts around 4 GH and 2 KH. Right now I'm using alkaline buffer sparingly until the GH comes down. The alkaline buffer seems to be doing a much better job at raising the KH to 3-4 while allowing my GH to creep down after a couple weeks of 30% water changes and not using Equilibrium it's down to 8GH.
 
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Chanyi

I would dose KHCO3 to get KH up 1.0 degrees.

I would dose CaSO4 to get GH up 4 degrees.
I would dose MgSO4 to get GH up 2 degrees.

This is the cheapest way to boost KH and GH with the least amount of "other" things.
 
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RayClem

What type of fish are you planning to keep? Some South American fish come from blackwater tributaries of the Amazon basin and like soft, acidic water; they would be fine with your current water. Some fish like African Rift Lake Cichlids like very hard, alkaline water. Most community tank fish do just fine with water that is moderately hard and moderately alkaline.

My tap water is unsuitable for fish, so I use RO water as by source water. Your water is pretty close to RO water in composition. I have community tanks, so I target a hardness of 7-8 dGH and a pH of 7.5. I use Seachem Equilibrium to raise the GH to my target level. Equilibrium contains potassium sulfate, calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, ferric sulfate, and manganese sulfate. Since it has no carbonate, bicarbonate or phosphate ions, it does not raise KH.

To raise my KH and stabilize the pH, I use API Proper pH 7.5. However, they also have other products that establish other pH levels. This is a phosphate buffer. Some people do not want to add phosphates to the tank.

Seachem Alkaline buffer is comprised of carbonate and bicarbonate salts. It does not use phosphates. It will raise the KH. If you want to establish a pH of 8+, you can use it alone. If you do not want a pH that high, you will have to monitor your pH levels and add more or less product to maintain a constant pH.

Alkaline Buffer is designed to be used in conjunction with Seachem Acid Buffer to establish a specific pH depending upon the ratio of acid/alkaline buffer used. Using the two buffers in combination, you can control the pH anywhere between 6 and 8 by varying the ratio of each.
 
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Vollmond

What type of fish are you planning to keep? Some South American fish come from blackwater tributaries of the Amazon basin and like soft, acidic water; they would be fine with your current water. Some fish like African Rift Lake Cichlids like very hard, alkaline water. Most community tank fish do just fine with water that is moderately hard and moderately alkaline.

My tap water is unsuitable for fish, so I use RO water as by source water. Your water is pretty close to RO water in composition. I have community tanks, so I target a hardness of 7-8 dGH and a pH of 7.5. I use Seachem Equilibrium to raise the GH to my target level. Equilibrium contains potassium sulfate, calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, ferric sulfate, and manganese sulfate. Since it has no carbonate, bicarbonate or phosphate ions, it does not raise KH.

To raise my KH and stabilize the pH, I use API Proper pH 7.5. However, they also have other products that establish other pH levels. This is a phosphate buffer. Some people do not want to add phosphates to the tank.

Seachem Alkaline buffer is comprised of carbonate and bicarbonate salts. It does not use phosphates. It will raise the KH. If you want to establish a pH of 8+, you can use it alone. If you do not want a pH that high, you will have to monitor your pH levels and add more or less product to maintain a constant pH.

Alkaline Buffer is designed to be used in conjunction with Seachem Acid Buffer to establish a specific pH depending upon the ratio of acid/alkaline buffer used. Using the two buffers in combination, you can control the pH anywhere between 6 and 8 by varying the ratio of each.


Thank you! This is very helpful. I'm planning on a community tank of cories, rasboras, and honey gouramis, and maaaaybe shrimp.

I think what might be smartest is to give it a couple weeks to see how the coral and equilibrium affect the kH and gH, and then from there decide how much I need to raise the kH, or if I still need to. As I mentioned in my op, I'm not so much interested in pinpointing a specific pH as my parameters have ok wiggle room, I'm more concerned about pH fluctuations and how they'll affect future fish, so my main goal in raising the kH is to stabilize the pH more than anything else.

In general, I'd like to get my water calibrations down before I start tossing living beings in there.
 
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RayClem

Thank you! This is very helpful. I'm planning on a community tank of cories, rasboras, and honey gouramis, and maaaaybe shrimp.

I think what might be smartest is to give it a couple weeks to see how the coral and equilibrium affect the kH and gH, and then from there decide how much I need to raise the kH, or if I still need to. As I mentioned in my op, I'm not so much interested in pinpointing a specific pH as my parameters have ok wiggle room, I'm more concerned about pH fluctuations and how they'll affect future fish, so my main goal in raising the kH is to stabilize the pH more than anything else.

In general, I'd like to get my water calibrations down before I start tossing living beings in there.

Crushed coral is aragonite, a mineral comprised of calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate and several trace minerals. Since your water is so soft and slightly acidic, the aragonite will start to dissolve in the water raising GH, KH and pH. It may be all that you need.

There is no specific pH that you need to maintain, but you should try to keep the pH stable. People often forget that pH is measured on a logarithmic scale. A pH of 8 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 7.
 
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Vollmond

Crushed coral is aragonite, a mineral comprised of calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate and several trace minerals. Since your water is so soft and slightly acidic, the aragonite will start to dissolve in the water raising GH, KH and pH. It may be all that you need.

There is no specific pH that you need to maintain, but you should try to keep the pH stable. People often forget that pH is measured on a logarithmic scale. A pH of 8 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 7.

Yes! That is why I'm concerned about the kH, since it will help stabilize the pH from major swings. Thanks for help, I'll monitor the coral/equilibrium mix for the next couple weeks and see how that goes before making the next decision.
 
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AvalancheDave

Yes, I just add sodium carbonate to maintain the desired pH. There's no need to add acid since nitrification does that automatically.
 
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Vollmond

Yes, I just add sodium carbonate to maintain the desired pH. There's no need to add acid since nitrification does that automatically.

I'm not after a specific pH so much as I'm after pH stability (hence my concerns with kH)
 
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AvalancheDave

I'm not after a specific pH so much as I'm after pH stability (hence my concerns with kH)

Fish can tolerate a range of pH. Nitrifying bacteria are more picky so I choose a pH where nitrification is optimal (high 7s).
 
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Vollmond

Yes, I'm concerned with the swings in pH that come with low kH and the health problems that that can cause, which is why I'm focused on getting my kH higher and stable and not as worried about a specific pH. Mine is low, but I know that will increase a bit as I bring up the gH, so my main concern is getting it stabilized by raising the kH so it doesn't bounce all over the place.
 
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Chanyi

Yes, I'm concerned with the swings in pH that come with low kH and the health problems that that can cause, which is why I'm focused on getting my kH higher and stable and not as worried about a specific pH. Mine is low, but I know that will increase a bit as I bring up the gH, so my main concern is getting it stabilized by raising the kH so it doesn't bounce all over the place.
Raising GH will have no effect on pH, especially if you use CaSO4 or MgSO4 or Equilibrium.

Raising KH will automatically raise pH. That's why I recommend using KHCO3 and bumping KH up 1 degrees. This will keep pH stable, in the low 7's, and add only carbonates with a little extra potassium and nothing else.
 
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AvalancheDave

pH is related to kH not gH. It's very difficult and likely impossible to increase kH without increasing pH.
 
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Vollmond

Ah, thank you for that clarification! My pH is very low, so I'm fine with that, there's lots of room for it to go up while I work on getting the kH to a reasonable level (definitely higher than the 1° it's at now) and stabilize it.
 
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Chanyi

Ah, thank you for that clarification! My pH is very low, so I'm fine with that, there's lots of room for it to go up while I work on getting the kH to a reasonable level (definitely higher than the 1° it's at now) and stabilize it.

Bumping it 1 degree higher than you are is enough to keep it stable, especially if you are performing regular water changes with KH boosted water.
 
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Vollmond

Bumping it 1 degree higher than you are is enough to keep it stable, especially if you are performing regular water changes with KH boosted water.

Thank you, that's really helpful.

I guess my follow up to that, is... Going forward, once I get the tank water stabilized, when I do water changes, do I augment just the water that's going into the tank?

Like, test my parameters, remove water and clean/vac, pour my tap water, add an appropriate dose of KHCO3 for that amount of water, and add that to the tank...

Or do I do my water change, and then dose the tank?
 
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Chanyi

Thank you, that's really helpful.

I guess my follow up to that, is... Going forward, once I get the tank water stabilized, when I do water changes, do I augment just the water that's going into the tank?


No testing needed.

Determine how much it takes to boost your parameters to where you want them (go to rotalabutterfly nutrient calculator to determine this).

Determine how much water you change during each water change.

Dose the new water prior to adding it to the tank up to your determined levels.

Add water to the tank after it's been boosted and everything is dissolved.

So, for example:

55 gallon tank holding 50 gallon of actual water and a 50% water change = 25 gallons.

Fill up a tote or some buckets with 25 gallons of water and dose enough CaSO4, MgSO4 and KHCO3 to get up to the levels you want (if using buckets, you'll have to dose smaller amounts into each bucket to get parameters the same, if using a tote / bin that can hold all of the water needed, dose it all into that).

Fully dissolve everything and you are ready to add it to the tank.

if your levels are:

KH - 2 degrees
GH - 4 degrees from Ca and 2 degrees from Mg = 6 degrees

You'll be removing water with KH of 2 and GH of 6, and you'll be replacing water with KH of 2 and GH of 6.

Work up to those levels slowly over a few weeks to avoid shock to livestock.

For reference:

135mg KHCO3 / 1 gallon = 1.0 dKH
115mg CaSO4.2H2O / 1 gallon = 1.0 dGH
167mg MgSO4 / 1 gallon = 1.0 dGH
 
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Vollmond

This is very helpful, thanks! As i mentioned in the first post, there's no fish yet as I want to get the whole thing stable before I add live beings, so if it's currently fishless can I just do it all at once?
 
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The2dCour

This is very helpful, thanks! As i mentioned in the first post, there's no fish yet as I want to get the whole thing stable before I add live beings, so if it's currently fishless can I just do it all at once?
The more you do at once the harder it is to back out of if you overstep. However, nothing is at stake besides your time.
 
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Vollmond

The more you do at once the harder it is to back out of if you overstep. However, nothing is at stake besides your time.

Good point!
 
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Chanyi

This is very helpful, thanks! As i mentioned in the first post, there's no fish yet as I want to get the whole thing stable before I add live beings, so if it's currently fishless can I just do it all at once?

Do it all at once then, no issues.

If you overshoot, who cares, just perform a water change and lower it back down.

It's impossible to overshoot if you get the volume of water correct and the weight of the compound you'll be dosing correct.

I recommended a $20 jewelry scale accurate up 0.001g that comes with a calibration weight for dosing these compounds. That way you are much more accurate as opposed to working with micro measuring spoons.
 
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