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Hope For Those With Low Kh/unstable Ph...

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Mom2some, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    So quite a while ago I had a pH crash due to low kH.

    I added crushed shells to my filter and floated cuttlefish bone in the tank and things were better.

    Then I got lazy testing kH...

    Recently re-checked it and it had dropped again to 4 drops with my API test kit.

    Added 2 new large handfuls of crushed shells to the filter and 10-14 days (with 1 or 2 water changes) later my kH is at 6 drops! Hooray!
    Just wanted to let you all know that it is possible to see improvement! There is hope!
    I feel like this has been coming up a lot recently... so I wanted to share.
    @AllieSten - I know this was an issue for you, but whom else?

  2. jenmur Fishlore VIP Member

    According to some I have low kH according to test strips. I have never used the liquid test. But it stayed steady at 40. My pH has stayed the same as well.

    I am curious as to how often to test kH and gH? And how often do you add the shells/cuttlefish to the tank?

  3. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    It was @AllySaturn that was having issues with hers this week too. She has been really sick though, so haven't seen her today at all.

    I just checked my kH/gh today too. It was 4 drops kH & 6 drops gH. It has been the same for the last 12 days or so. With the pH sitting steady at 7.6.

    If I wouldn't have found this forum, I would have never ever figured out what the heck was happening to my tank. Thank goodness for Fishlore!

    I have been testing my gh/kH once a week since my crash a few weeks ago. I did it every day for a week and just tested my 2nd per week test today.

    I have added crushed coral to my filter media. I have 1/4 cup in my 5 gallon and 1/2 cup in my 10 gallon. Since I am new to this, what my understanding is that the coral slowly "melts" so if you keep up with consistent testing you will know when it is time to add more. I would guess that I will get to testing it once a month after this initial testing. I tend to be overly cautious.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2017
  4. jenmur Fishlore VIP Member

    Ok so it could just be tested when one tests for the Master Kit stuff.

    What type of filter do you have? I am going to start out with a HOB. Do you just put the coral in a mesh bag or leave it loose? Hmm that makes sense that it would slowly lose the power to keep the number steady. Hey nothing wrong with being cautious!
  5. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    Oh and I forgot to mention a HUGE thanks to you @Mom2some you really did guide me through my pH crash. So thanks a bunch :)

    You can monitor your pH with the master test kit, but the gh/kH has its own testing kit that you can buy separately.

    I would suggest using a filter media bag to add the coral to. I just poured it into the hob filter and ended up with grinding in my filter motor. The bags are pretty inexpensive. I make my own media bags though for my hob filter, so it's easier just to add one more thing to the mix.

    Go on YouTube and search for making your own filter media. It will show you exactly how to do it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2017
  6. jenmur Fishlore VIP Member

    Yeah, I saw it at one LFS for $12, but TexasDomer told me to look online.

    Ok that's what I was thinking to get a bag but wasn't sure if best way to have the coral. Oh huh, never thought about doing that! I just have been using the sponge, carbon, and biomax from AquaClear. And that fills up the entire area I have to use.

    Maybe add the coral to the biomax do you think?
  7. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    You can add the coral either in the filter or even just into your substrate. Either way it will work. I have my coral in the same bag as my ceramic rings in one tank, just placed into to hob filter neatly. Then both the rings and coral loose in the other hob filter for the other tank. Both seem to work fine. Although I definitely suggest keeping them in a bag of some sort for sure. The one hob is a big mess. Getting ready to upgrade tanks so waiting until I switch tanks to get it all reorganized lol
  8. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    @jenmur - how much space would you get if you took out your carbon? Or you could consider doing what I did and using crushed shells. I just tuck them in around my biomedia since they are so much smaller, and since I run a canister I just added a couple handfuls to the bottom of the filter where the water initially comes in. The shells are small enough they make it easy. I have black sand as my substrate, so I didn't want to add shells or coral directly to my tank for visual reasons.

    @AllieSten - glad I could help... just paying it forward for the people who helped me the night I posted my fish were all gasping at the surface.
  9. jenmur Fishlore VIP Member

    @AllieSten. Coral wouldn't hurt any of my fish (betta, cory Catfish, Pleco) (not in the same tank) if it's in the gravel/sand?

    @Mom2some. Maybe 3/4 inch? At a guess? But don't I have to use the carbon to keep the water clear? I wouldn't mind look of with black gravel or sand, but would it be safe for my betta (he's weird and likes to sleep under his bridge) or my future cory Catfish and Pleco I will have in my community tank?
  10. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Coral will not hurt your fish in their tanks or the filter. The carbon in your HOB is not necessary unless you are working to remove meds or tannins from the water. Other than that it is optional. Maybe try taking the carbon out and putting coral in that space to give it a try.

    Sand vs. gravel is mostly a personal preference. Some bottom dwelling fish so better with sand (khuli loaches, cory's often do better in maintenance of their barbels since sharp gravel can wear them down or cut them). I bought Black Diamond Blasting Sand at Tractor Supply where $10 got my 50 pounds I think.
  11. JGombs99 Well Known Member Member

    I'd like to follow this thread as I typically have a low KH, but my PH is stable. I use Alkalinity Buffer, but since this can also effect PH, I'm not sure it's the best solution. I've often wondered just how much of a problem my low KH is, anyway since my PH has remained stable.
  12. jenmur Fishlore VIP Member

    Oh really? Huh, good to know :). When I am able to get coral I will try taking the carbon out of my filter and putting coral in a bag in its place. Have to also get the liquid test kits first as well so I can keep track of it.

    Oh my betta has gravel and my community tank will have the Black Diamond blasting sand for the cories and Pleco. That's where I'm getting mine as well for $8 50lbs :).
  13. bgclarke Well Known Member Member

    In my 10 gallon tank there wasn't enough room in my filter for the bag of crushed coral, so I put some in a small terra cotta pot in the tank.
  14. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    As someone who experienced a pH crash a number of months into running my tank with weekly water changes, I would encourage you to keep an eye on it. How low is "sort of low"? Mine was 4 drops on the API kH test kit - which is the low end of "normal" high end of "low"... but it clearly wasn't sufficient for my tank since I eventually had a pH crash.
  15. JGombs99 Well Known Member Member

    Before I started using the buffer, it tested, during separate tests, 3, 2, and 1. That's when I started using the buffer. Now, it tends to drop no lower than 3-4, and I can get it to 5-6 without really effecting the PH. That's using 1 to 1.5 teaspoons with a water change. I'm not comfortable adding more than that as I'm afraid it would then begin to change my PH too much.
  16. -Mak- Fishlore VIP Member

    Have any of you had fish die during a ph crash? And how much did it drop/increase?

    I have a 3 gallon betta tank with a kh of 2. Tap kh is 1 or less. I started injecting CO2, and the ph never changed from 6.4 to 6.6. I do not use any buffers besides a few scattered pieces of crushed oyster shell in the filter.

    The reason I ask is it seems the general consensus on fishlore is that one must have a kh of 3+ to prevent ph swings.
    However on plantedtank and UKAPS there have some experienced members that have come to the conclusion that:

    A) kh of 1 or less do not necessarily cause kh swings because there are other minerals and substances buffering the water
    B) ph swings are not necessarily harmful to fish due to their adaption to drastic ph swings in their natural habitat (low kh, falling leaf litter, rain, etc)
  17. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    My pH fell from 7.6 to 6.8, m kH was 4 drops (I discovered later). The symptom was all my fish gasping at the surface. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were all good (I tested those first). So, I did not lose fish - but they were clearly in distress and I believe I prevented deaths by taking action to stabilize the kH and therefore the pH (baking soda initially).
    From what I have seen here... the issue of kH isn't brought up until a member is having trouble with pH crashing or cycling. For some people it may never be an issue, but for some - it is has been a real problem.
    I know my LFS thinks I am crazy to be concerned about my kH. But they also think I am crazy for doing weekly water changes of 50%. So I am not too concerned with their opinion.
  18. jenmur Fishlore VIP Member

  19. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Yes. I will take a picture of the instructions & post it after bedtime here...
  20. jenmur Fishlore VIP Member

    Sweet! That will make measuring coral if needed ever so much easier :)