How can I increase gh and kh without increasing ph?

Kgoyette

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HI everyone, I'm currently cycling my 20gal long. My ph of my well water after aeration (48hrs) is 8.0, gh 53, and kh 3, according to my apI tests. Not sure why its so soft, we don't use a softener of any kind.
I'm hoping to house 2 kribs in the tank after cycling. As I understand it, they can adapt to that ph but id like to get the buffering capacity up. Seeing that the ph is already high, if I added a limestone rock, would that raise the gh and kh without increasing the ph any further? Open to any and all suggestions but Id like to avoid using chemical buffers and such.
 

TexasDomer

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The kribs like soft water, so you don't need to worry about increasing GH. It wouldn't hurt to bring your KH up though, just so your pH is more stable.
 
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Kgoyette

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That's great news! How can I bring my kh up without increasing the ph?
 

hampalong

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If your GH is 53ppm that is extremely high and will need reduced. Or have you given the GH and KH in different units?
 
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Kgoyette

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ApI test said for both kh and gh I got....3dKH , 53.7 ppm gh/kh both took 3 drops to get me the reading..which I believe means its soft, no?
 

hampalong

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Sorry I meant degrees, not ppm.

So your GH and KH are both 3(degrees) which is very soft, and ideal for Kribs. GH is of no consequence, and a KH of 3 should be fine. It will be replenished with every water change, and as long as your tank is not heavily stocked it shouldn't decrease much below 3. My tap water has a KH of 2 and weekly water changes are enough to maintain this...
 
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Kgoyette

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Awesome, I was worried that my ph may swing too much with the low kh. And the ph of 8 will be ok as well? I'm only looking to put a pair of kribs in the 20 long and not going to try for frys. How much of a water change do you do, 25% weekly?
 

hampalong

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Let the rate of nitrate buildup dictate your water changes. At least 25% weekly, more if required to bring nitrates back down.

Chances are your pair of Kribs will...
1) be frightened because there are no dither fish in the tank (no fish means they're all hiding, which means there's danger about...)
2) breed (when you have dithers).
 

chromedome52

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If you are looking to breed common Kribs, you need to lower the pH below 7.0, or your sex ratios will be severely skewed. I would not do this chemically, but naturally with almond or oak leaves, or peat fibers in the filter. I also use sphagnum moss, but you have to be careful as this can drop the pH a lot with fairly soft water.

Sorry, I wrote this before your post saying you don't want to spawn.
 
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Kgoyette

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What level should the nitrates be at ideally once a proper wc has been done?(forgive me, this is my first time at trying to set up a tank....properly)

so you would recommend dither fish, anything in particular with the high ph? I also want to make sure I don't overload the tank..my filter is an aqueon 50..
 
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Kgoyette

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Stupid question but can I keep 2 of the same sex, for some reason I was thinking I had to have a pair?
 

chromedome52

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Ignore the pH. It is artificially high because your water is so soft. Even a low KH makes it appear high in soft water, and I disagree that GH is not relevant; I consider that more important than pH.
 

CindiL

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Hi, welcome to fishlore

I think your KH of 53ppm is borderline. Keep a close eye on your ph. Maybe test twice a week for the first month to make sure it is not dropping.

GH, KH and PH are all intertwined, its hard to bring up one without the other. You can bring up GH alone with calcium chloride and KH and PH with calcium carbonates. Most mineral rocks, sand substrates will bring up all three. The only way I know of to increase KH and not GH and PH is by using Seachem's alkaline and acid buffers together which you had mentioned you don't want to use.

I also think GH is very important. People mistakenly often think soft water fish means little to no GH which is just not true. (I am not saying anyone here is saying that,) just a common misconception I wanted to point out. You always want to have positive mineral cations in your water. With two fish your GH is probably ok but make sure to do decent sized water changes to replenish this each week.
 
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Kgoyette

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Thank you for all the great responses! So much to learn!

Does anyone know, if I were to add a rock such as limestone or a dead coral, would it raise my ph much more than where I already am? (8) or does it kind of cease adding at a certain point?
 
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Kgoyette

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Will I be able to tell if my ph is or isn't stable during the fishless cycling that I'm currently doing? Or will I not know until I put fish in? I will pick up some crushed coral just in case.
 

CindiL

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Cycling is probably a good test because it uses up carbonates quickly depending on how much you are dosing. I think a small amount of coral is good anyways, even if its just a 1/4 cup in the filter or scattered in the substrate. I don't think it would be enough to do much to your ph from where it already is at but if ph was to start dropping it would dissolve the coral and hold it steady.

I have seen quite a few people here have ph crashes at around your KH or less and then they end up having to cycle all over again because by the time they've caught it, a large amount of nitrifying bacteria has died off. This may not happen to you but I figure better safe than sorry with a little coral.

Regarding cycling, do you have any other tanks running right now?
 
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Kgoyette

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Thanks for the detailed response, I don't have any other tanks. I do have a real dead, dried large coral that I could try? Or would that not work as well as crushed? I just started the cycling process yesterday, added somewhere between 3-4ppm pure ammonia.

if for some reason I did have a crash at some point, would the bacteria in the filter, which has a biomax insert, be killed as well?
 

CindiL

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Someone else will have to give their ok on the dead coral you have.....I am assuming this is different then the crushed shell itself in the bags? As in maybe just the outer part? I do not know much about coral other than its raises gh, kh and ph lol.

As far as crashes and bio-media and other populated areas of the tank it comes down to how far down it drops and how long its there before you catch it. Usually I think people see rising levels of ammonia and that's how they catch it.
Annie424 had a couple crashes in the beginning of her tank setup I think, so maybe she'll have something to add to this.
 

Annie424

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HI Kgoyette. I had a pH crash due to low KH about 2 months ago. There was literally no warning. My tank was fully cycled, and going good for at least 6 weeks or so. Then BAM - the pH went from the usual 7.6 to below 6.4 in a matter of less than 24 hours. Probably less than 18 hours, actually. All was good the night before, and when I came home from work the next day things were really bad. I lost my female betta, and it took over 2 weeks before my nitrites lowered from being pinned at the top of the chart to zero. My KH is normally 3 drops, GH was normally between 9-10 drops with the API tester. Bear in mind, this was my newest tank - I'd had another for close to a year and still have had no problems other than somewhat higher nitrates than I'd like. Both tanks test almost exactly the same. I have the same filter, substrate, bioload, plants, etc. in each tank. Why the newer setup crashed and the older one didn't...I have no idea. I have since added crushed coral to each filter bag. The GH/KH has only risen one drop, but the pH has gone up from 7.6 to around 8.2. Which I don't really like at all, but it's better than having everything die and throwing the cycle out. My only clue that something had gone horribly wrong was coming home to find my betta alternating between swimming sideways at the top of the tank and being sucked up against the filter intake. I immediately tested the water and found the pH had dropped like crazy. I did a huge water change right away, but it wasn't enough and she died within a few hours. Then it took close to 2 weeks before my nitrite levels were safe. I'm very lucky my invertebrates did not die while I was trying to fix the water.
 
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Kgoyette

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Thank you for sharing your experience, sorry you lost your betta . I'm thinking ill throw the dead coral in as a decoration for now, and pick up some crushed coral on my next trip to town..its a good 35-40 min from here. In the meantime I will test the ph periodically as it cycles and keep an eye on it. Not too worried about the high ph as I'm already at 8, what's another .2! Lol
 

CindiL

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You can actually use it in place of the bio-max or you can just leave it in a bag in your tank or scattered in your tank. I have a feeling though your piece of coral is all you will need so I wouldn't bother picking up the crushed coral until you see how the large piece effects your readings.
 
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Kgoyette

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So today is the start of days 3 of cycling and my ph is down to 7.4-7.6 (in between the high and low tests I think) is this an indication that I will in fact need the crushed coral or is this typical during cycling? Ammonia still around 2-3ppm and nitrates are about .25 as of now.
 

CindiL

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Probably would be my feeling. You would not see this with a higher KH in the first few days of cycling. Did you already put in your piece of coral?
 
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Kgoyette

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But will it take time to leach calcium from the coral? How fast does the crushed coral work?
 

CindiL

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I would say about the same as they're both coral and yes they're not instant. The bag of Crushed coral I bought at petsmart also has aragonite in it but it does the same thing.

In the mean time you can add in 1/4tsp of baking soda mixed with a little tank water. This should bring the ph back up and help hold it Make sure its not baking powder just baking soda. Wait a few hours then test it.
 
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Kgoyette

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ok, ill add the baking soda and check it in a few hours. I called the closest petsmart, they are sold out of crushed coral. Looks like it will be until tuesday or Wednesday until I can get some. Will the baking soda hold it that long or do I just keep adding it as necssary
 

CindiL

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When I have used it in the past it has actually held really well. I would test over the next couple of days to see if it remains steady and add as necessary.
 
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Kgoyette

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I received my crushed coral, it too hasa araganite mixed in. I added 1/4c to filter yesterday and this morning it was 8.4+ph, I take it I should use less?
 

CindiL

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What was the ph yesterday? 1/4 cup isn't that much I would think that would be ok. As long as the baking soda is in there your ph will be higher than it would be with just the crushed coral so you might want to wait until after a couple of water changes to decide.
 

Annie424

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I started out using about 1/4 cup of crushed coral in each of my 10G tanks. As I mentioned before, the pH rose quite a bit rather quickly while the GH/KH not so much. My fish seem fine, but since they prefer more of a lower pH than 8.2 I thought I'd take some of the coral out and see what happens. So when I did my water change this past weekend, I took out at least 1/2 of the crushed coral from my filters (after leaving the larger amount in a few weeks). I'm getting ready to test both tanks again, as it's time for another water change. If you are interested, I'll let you know what the readings are. Since my tanks are so small, I'm thinking it won't take much to change the parameters and at this point I'm learning how to tweak it. I suspect I may see a change in the readings, hopefully to the good.
 
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Kgoyette

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My ph was at 7.6 yesterday, I didn't put the baking soda in cuz I was hoping to find the coral over the weekend and it wasn't dropping.
The kh was up to 4 and gh 5 today along with the 8.4+ph..I did a 25% water change, removed the coral and put only 2 tablespoons of crushed coral back in the filter..as of now kh and gh are at the same, which I am happy about and ph back to 7.6...I think I'll give it a few days to sort out and go from there? I just thought that it topped out at 8.2 no matter what with coral but maybe the skeleton was an added kicker that kicked in?
 

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