How to use seachem alkaline buffer to raise KH and stabilize ph?

Fae

I'm not sure if we have a water softener or just naturally soft water, but it comes out of the tap at:

pH - 7
GH - 1
KH - 1>

Luckily I mostly have soft water fish, but my axolotl is not loving it. They need pretty hard water, like at least 10 each and similarly higher ph (but I'm not chasing that).

I bought seachem alkaline buffer and acid buffer before really understanding how to use them, lol.

The pH was swinging around 6.8-7.4 until I started adding alkaline buffer @ 1/4tsp/20g tank on November 2nd, 4 days ago. That's 1/4 dose, since I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. I've added 1/4tsp every day since then, and it has been bumping up my KH by 1 every day (so now I'm at 5, started at 1). My ph has been steady at 7.4.

Oh and I should add, the tank isn't planted and also has no substrate. It was before, but that comes with its own problems with messy axolotls.

So basically I'm wondering what should I do now? The KH I will probably keep slowly taking up to at least 10. What do I do when I do water changes? Just test and redose? Will it effect my ph? I don't really understand the instructions on the bottle. Am I on the right track at least here?
 

Queasy

The best advice I can give you is to stay clear from messing with the PH, especially if you are a beginner. Chemicals, especially in a 20G can cause fluctuations that will harm your fish MUCH greater than a PH level/water hardness that he doesn't like. Consistency is key whenever it comes to PH. If you'd like to raise the GH, which I'd recommend, choose a natural way (there are many rocks and stones that do this over a long period of time). If you end up using chemicals to change your parameters, water changes are going to cause your parameters to fluctuate and possibly put your fish in shock and create stress which makes them susceptible to diseases. Remember, nothing good comes fast in this hobby. Have patience and take the natural/long route over the shortcuts.
 
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Fae

The best advice I can give you is to stay clear from messing with the PH, especially if you are a beginner. Chemicals, especially in a 20G can cause fluctuations that will harm your fish MUCH greater than a PH level/water hardness that he doesn't like. Consistency is key whenever it comes to PH. If you'd like to raise the GH, which I'd recommend, choose a natural way (there are many rocks and stones that do this over a long period of time). If you end up using chemicals to change your parameters, water changes are going to cause your parameters to fluctuate and possibly put your fish in shock and create stress which makes them susceptible to diseases. Remember, nothing good comes fast in this hobby. Have patience and take the natural/long route over the shortcuts.

I appreciate your concern, sorry I think I didn't explain right. My ph was swinging due to my naturally very soft/low KH water. It was visibly causing problems to my normally very hardy axolotl. I'm not chasing ph at all. I'm trying to raise KH so my ph will remain stable. I'm just wondering how I should I go about keeping the KH stable, and if I'm using the product correctly

I've raised the GH through John's solution, and usually have wondershells on hand for that as well.
 
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Queasy

I appreciate your concern, sorry I think I didn't explain right. My ph was swinging due to my naturally very soft/low KH water. It was visibly causing problems to my normally very hardy axolotl. I'm not chasing ph at all. I'm trying to raise KH so my ph will remain stable. I'm just wondering how I should I go about keeping the KH stable, and if I'm using the product correctly

I've raised the GH through John's solution, and usually have wondershells on hand for that as well.
I misunderstood your request, my apologies. I personally just use crushed coral whenever trying to raise my KH (add it to the filter or spread on the floor). The problem with crushed coral is it raises GH as well, so if you have soft-water fish I'd think twice before doing that. It's kind of difficult to raise GH or KH individually (without chemicals) as they're kind of interlinked. I mostly kept hard-water fish, so I never ran into an issue where I had to raise one parameter individually, so I'll let someone who has some experience with this chime in! I'm sure some experts on here will guide you on how to use your buffer solution. Again, sorry for the earlier misunderstanding (still haven't had my coffee ).
 
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Fae

I misunderstood your request, my apologies. I personally just use crushed coral whenever trying to raise my KH (add it to the filter or spread on the floor). The problem with crushed coral is it raises GH as well, so if you have soft-water fish I'd think twice before doing that. It's kind of difficult to raise GH or KH individually (without chemicals) as they're kind of interlinked. I mostly kept hard-water fish, so I never ran into an issue where I had to raise one parameter individually, so I'll let someone who has some experience with this chime in! I'm sure some experts on here will guide you on how to use your buffer solution. Again, sorry for the earlier misunderstanding (still haven't had my coffee ).

No worries for the misunderstanding, I tend to beat around the bush when explaining!

Luckily axolotls are hard water salamanders, so perhaps the crushed coral will work? Do you have to buy that online? I can't think of anywhere I've seen it.

From what I understand, the buffer is less a chemical and more a mineral, but I could be way off base here (well, technically everything is chemicals but you catch my drift).

It would probably be easier to raise the two together so I'm open to that for sure. I don't think I would be easily able to raise the KH or GH higher than comfortable for my axolotl so I'm not too worried about that.

Do you know if it's important to keep GH and KH stable? Or just ph?

Thanks for putting in the effort before your brain is even awake X)
 
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CTYankee79

I’m not an expert but on this, but just wanted to chime in what I do know. You likely have naturally soft water, if you had a water softener you’d likely have higher ph and kh (although your gh would probably look like it does).

Ph and kh are interrelated and with higher kh comes a higher ph. I understand you want to raise kh (which will also raise ph) in order to stabilize your ph. There are more experienced members on here that can explain the best way to do that.

I personally have a high kh (and therefore high ph) so my ph really can’t be touched. But I do add minerals (Seachem Equilibrium) in order to raise my very low gh, that way my fish and plants have the minerals they need.
I may be wrong, but I believe some of the natural ways to raise your kh and ph will also add minerals so your gh will also go up. I defer to more experienced members.
 
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Queasy

No worries for the misunderstanding, I tend to beat around the bush when explaining!

Luckily axolotls are hard water salamanders, so perhaps the crushed coral will work? Do you have to buy that online? I can't think of anywhere I've seen it.

From what I understand, the buffer is less a chemical and more a mineral, but I could be way off base here (well, technically everything is chemicals but you catch my drift).

It would probably be easier to raise the two together so I'm open to that for sure. I don't think I would be easily able to raise the KH or GH higher than comfortable for my axolotl so I'm not too worried about that.

Do you know if it's important to keep GH and KH stable? Or just ph?

Thanks for putting in the effort before your brain is even awake X)
Pretty sure you can find it online, it's relatively inexpensive. I remember buying a MASSIVE bag like 10KG+ for less than 10$ from my LFS. I'd check with your LFS before checking online. It loses its effectiveness after a while, so you need to replace it from time to time. Also, yeah you need to maintain water parameters which include KH and GH. Although from my experience GH & KH aren't really as important as PH. With crushed coral, it typically raises GH, KH which makes your PH stabilize. Once you do a water change it's going to lower your GH & KH but they'll go back up with the crushed coral + mixing with the other water that has a high amount of dissolved minerals. It's very interesting that your tap water is 1 GH and KH, what did you use to test it?
 
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RayClem

Your tap water is neutral in pH (7.0) and soft. That would be an ideal water for some fish, but not for those who like hard, alkaline water. I have never tried raising axolotl, so I am not an expert in their care, but I understand they like water on the harder side.

Hard water can contain a lot of different minerals, but the to primary ones are calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. When combined they form a mineral called aragonite. This is the mineral contained in coral reefs and coral sand. Thus, my first recommendation would be to add crushed coral to your tank. You can use it as the substrate or you can add a pouch of it into your filter. The crushed coral will dissolve slowly adding calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate to the tank. This will raise both the GH (general hardness) and KH (alkalinity). As the KH goes up, the pH will rise as well.

There are ways to adjust GH and KH separately. Seachem Equilibrium is primarily a mixture of calcium sulfate (plaster of Paris) and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt). Because this product contains calcium and magnesium in the form of sulfates rather than carbonates, it will raise the GH without significantly affecting the KH alkalinity or pH..

Seachem Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer contain sodium salts that will affect the pH and KH alkalinity. Because they contain sodium salts rather than calcium and magnesium, they do not affect the GH.

The alkaline buffer is primarily a mixture of sodium carbonate (soda ash) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Sodium carbonate is very high in pH, so it is ideal for raising pH. Sodium bicarbonate has a PH of around 8.2, so it does not raise pH quite as much, but it is ideal for raising alkalinity. I do not know the specific blend of salts in Seachem Alkaline Buffer. I use baking soda from the grocery store to raise alkalinity when required in my tanks. I will add 1/4 teaspoon per 50 gallons to raise pH by about 0.1 pH units.

Some laboratories who raise axolotl use specific chemical formulations to produce water. You can look up
Holtrefeter's Solution and Steinberg's Solution. One simple formula is called John's Solution that you mentioned earlier. It contains sodium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and sodium bicarbonate. However, it does not contain any calcium, so I am not sure that it replicates the natural environment; calcium and magnesium are always found in combination.
 
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Plecolover4477

The best advice I can give you is to stay clear from messing with the PH, especially if you are a beginner. Chemicals, especially in a 20G can cause fluctuations that will harm your fish MUCH greater than a PH level/water hardness that he doesn't like. Consistency is key whenever it comes to PH. If you'd like to raise the GH, which I'd recommend, choose a natural way (there are many rocks and stones that do this over a long period of time). If you end up using chemicals to change your parameters, water changes are going to cause your parameters to fluctuate and possibly put your fish in shock and create stress which makes them susceptible to diseases. Remember, nothing good comes fast in this hobby. Have patience and take the natural/long route over the shortcuts.
I find Crushed Coral works very well either directly into the filter inside of a bio bag or you can add CC to your substrate.Once in the filter it is absorbed very fast and would prob have to be changed every 3 months or snce you put it in your substrate you will never have to remove but it is absorbed at a slower rate once mixed in with the substrate.But I agree stay away from the chemicals.
 
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mattgirl

I find Crushed Coral works very well either directly into the filter inside of a bio bag or you can add CC to your substrate.Once in the filter it is absorbed very fast and would prob have to be changed every 3 months or snce you put it in your substrate you will never have to remove but it is absorbed at a slower rate once mixed in with the substrate.But I agree stay away from the chemicals.
I think you are thinking about some other kind of product (carbon perhaps?) Crushed coral doesn't need to be changed out. More needs to be added from time to time. It doesn't absorb anything. It simply dissolves and by doing so raises the hardness level in our tanks.

Fae I feel the most natural thing you can do to raise and stabilize the parameters in this tank is to add crushed coral. Rinse it off first to get the excess dust off. If you don't do so it will raise the pH too quickly. You want to let it do so slowly. It can take several days to reach its full potential. If after 3 or 4 days you aren't where you need to be add more. It will reach a point to where it will go no higher so there is no need to be concerned about it going too high.

Where the numbers end up will depend on the chemistry of your source water. That is the main reason I can't give you exact numbers. What it does in my water will be different than what it will do in yours or any one else's.

Personally I prefer using coral chunks. I have both chunks and aragonite. The aragonite is crushed coral that has been ground down to the size of tiny gravel. When I have used it I have found that disturbing the media bag it is in will temporarily cloud my water. Not really a problem because it normally clears quickly but is an eyesore for a period of time.

Since your source water comes out of the tap so low you may have to do smaller water changes more often than once a week once you get the numbers where they need to be in the tank. That or run a separate container for your water change water. You would have to run a filter containing nothing but crushed coral in it to get the pH up where it needs to be for your water changes.

You may have to use bottled products to adjust your water before pouring it in the tank once you get the tank where it needs to be but I would have to try the crushed coral first.
 
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Fae

Your tap water is neutral in pH (7.0) and soft. That would be an ideal water for some fish, but not for those who like hard, alkaline water. I have never tried raising axolotl, so I am not an expert in their care, but I understand they like water on the harder side.

Hard water can contain a lot of different minerals, but the to primary ones are calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. When combined they form a mineral called aragonite. This is the mineral contained in coral reefs and coral sand. Thus, my first recommendation would be to add crushed coral to your tank. You can use it as the substrate or you can add a pouch of it into your filter. The crushed coral will dissolve slowly adding calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate to the tank. This will raise both the GH (general hardness) and KH (alkalinity). As the KH goes up, the pH will rise as well.

There are ways to adjust GH and KH separately. Seachem Equilibrium is primarily a mixture of calcium sulfate (plaster of Paris) and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt). Because this product contains calcium and magnesium in the form of sulfates rather than carbonates, it will raise the GH without significantly affecting the KH alkalinity or pH..

Seachem Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer contain sodium salts that will affect the pH and KH alkalinity. Because they contain sodium salts rather than calcium and magnesium, they do not affect the GH.

The alkaline buffer is primarily a mixture of sodium carbonate (soda ash) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Sodium carbonate is very high in pH, so it is ideal for raising pH. Sodium bicarbonate has a PH of around 8.2, so it does not raise pH quite as much, but it is ideal for raising alkalinity. I do not know the specific blend of salts in Seachem Alkaline Buffer. I use baking soda from the grocery store to raise alkalinity when required in my tanks. I will add 1/4 teaspoon per 50 gallons to raise pH by about 0.1 pH units.

Some laboratories who raise axolotl use specific chemical formulations to produce water. You can look up
Holtrefeter's Solution and Steinberg's Solution. One simple formula is called John's Solution that you mentioned earlier. It contains sodium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and sodium bicarbonate. However, it does not contain any calcium, so I am not sure that it replicates the natural environment; calcium and magnesium are always found in combination.

Amazing answer, thank you so much for putting that together! Between you and mattgirl, all my questions have been answered.

Super interesting chemistry lessons as well.

Is ph tied to KH completely? As in, there's no way to raise KH separately? I'm just curious, I don't think I need to or anything

I think you are thinking about some other kind of product (carbon perhaps?) Crushed coral doesn't need to be changed out. More needs to be added from time to time. It doesn't absorb anything. It simply dissolves and by doing so raises the hardness level in our tanks.

Fae I feel the most natural thing you can do to raise and stabilize the parameters in this tank is to add crushed coral. Rinse it off first to get the excess dust off. If you don't do so it will raise the pH too quickly. You want to let it do so slowly. It can take several days to reach its full potential. If after 3 or 4 days you aren't where you need to be add more. It will reach a point to where it will go no higher so there is no need to be concerned about it going too high.

Where the numbers end up will depend on the chemistry of your source water. That is the main reason I can't give you exact numbers. What it does in my water will be different than what it will do in yours or any one else's.

Personally I prefer using coral chunks. I have both chunks and aragonite. The aragonite is crushed coral that has been ground down to the size of tiny gravel. When I have used it I have found that disturbing the media bag it is in will temporarily cloud my water. Not really a problem because it normally clears quickly but is an eyesore for a period of time.

Since your source water comes out of the tap so low you may have to do smaller water changes more often than once a week once you get the numbers where they need to be in the tank. That or run a separate container for your water change water. You would have to run a filter containing nothing but crushed coral in it to get the pH up where it needs to be for your water changes.

You may have to use bottled products to adjust your water before pouring it in the tank once you get the tank where it needs to be but I would have to try the crushed coral first.

Thank you for the detailed instructions and further explanation! I'm thinking what my plan will be is:
Order some crushed coral and recieve that in a couple days. While I'm waiting do 30% water change or two to get some of the alkaline buffer out (before seeing this I had dose 1/4tsp twice again).

I'm going to have to put the coral into my filter asaxolotls are a danger to themselves and will accidentally ingest anything small enough to fit in their mouths. Or would you recommend using the chunks? In that case they could go in the tank.

Roughly how much should I start with? It's a 20g tank, unplanted/no substrate, just my axolotl.

I think I just had a good idea. There's a bottled water I drink that's "alkaline water - ph 9(?)" And I think has minerals added as well, I'll google it and check. Would that work mixed with my water to match ph possibly later down the line?

I think a whole other tank and filter just for tank water for my axolotl in the future might push my family over the edge lol
 
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mattgirl

If once you check out the bottled water you find it does have the necessary minerals that would be the easiest route to take.

If you can find the chunks of coral I have to think putting it in the tank would work. I would want to situate them where there will be the most water movement. I actually think either chunks or the smaller pieces will work best if it can be put in a media bag and situated in the filter. That way water is constantly running over it and dispersing it out into the tank.

Start with as much as you can fit into your filter or at least a cup of it. The good thing about using crushed coral is it will only change your parameters so much. How much depends on the chemistry of your water.

I try to do and recommend doing things as natural as possible. In your case crushed coral and if possible bottled water may be best for this water pet.
 
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Chanyi

Another option, that allows you control over your KH and thus pH, would be to prepare your water prior to a water change using KHCO3, simply dissolve the same amount of it into the same amount of water each waterchange (before adding the new water into the tank), and you will never have an issue.

KH of 1 degree is plenty to keep things stable, especially if you are performing regular water changes, and KHCO3 is really cheap.

Once the tank reaches the 1 degrees of KH (pH will be 7.2 ish), your water changes would be completely stable (you are removing water with a KH of 1 degree, and replacing it with water that has 1 degree of KH instead of removing water with whatever KH / pH crushed coral gives you, and replacing it with water >1 degrees of KH and causing a small fluctuation).
 
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RayClem

Amazing answer, thank you so much for putting that together! Between you and mattgirl, all my questions have been answered.

Super interesting chemistry lessons as well.

Is ph tied to KH completely? As in, there's no way to raise KH separately? I'm just curious, I don't think I need to or anything



Thank you for the detailed instructions and further explanation! I'm thinking what my plan will be is:
Order some crushed coral and recieve that in a couple days. While I'm waiting do 30% water change or two to get some of the alkaline buffer out (before seeing this I had dose 1/4tsp twice again).

I'm going to have to put the coral into my filter asaxolotls are a danger to themselves and will accidentally ingest anything small enough to fit in their mouths. Or would you recommend using the chunks? In that case they could go in the tank.

Roughly how much should I start with? It's a 20g tank, unplanted/no substrate, just my axolotl.

I think I just had a good idea. There's a bottled water I drink that's "alkaline water - ph 9(?)" And I think has minerals added as well, I'll google it and check. Would that work mixed with my water to match ph possibly later down the line?

I think a whole other tank and filter just for tank water for my axolotl in the future might push my family over the edge lol


Just add a bag of crushed coral to the tank. It dissolves slowly so it won't cause a huge spike in pH.

There is a relationship between pH, KH and dissolved Carbon Dioxide in water. This relationship was quantified by Tom Barr:

CO2/pH/KH table


If you are not injecting CO2 into the water, the KH and pH will change in tandem.
 
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