Ideal Ph, Gh, Kh and TDS for a planted aquarium

Deep Dave

HI all,

I am just trying to discover and understand topics like GH, KH and TDS trying to take my aquascaping hobby a level up.

I generally have plants like Crypts, Bacopa, MonteCarlo, Rotala etc ,and generally have Tetras, Corydoras, Ottos, Amano Shrimps and Nerite Snails in my tank.

All those experienced in planted tanks with Co2 injection, what levels of PH, GH, KH and TDS should one normally aI'm for for better plant growth?

Also if anyone could point me towards some reading material on the topic, it w be great

Cheers!
Deep
 

CrazedHoosier

Ph is just the measure of how acidic or alkaline water is. The lower the number is, the more acidic. I believe Kh represents how stable your Ph is? I’m not sure on that one, as my tester doesn’t show that. Less sensitive plants won’t care about you Ph much as long as it’s not extreme and not unstable.
 

SeattleRoy

HI all,

I am just trying to discover and understand topics like GH, KH and TDS trying to take my aquascaping hobby a level up.

I generally have plants like Crypts, Bacopa, MonteCarlo, Rotala etc ,and generally have Tetras, Corydoras, Ottos, Amano Shrimps and Nerite Snails in my tank.

All those experienced in planted tanks with Co2 injection, what levels of PH, GH, KH and TDS should one normally aI'm for for better plant growth?

Also if anyone could point me towards some reading material on the topic, it w be great

Cheers!
Deep

HI Deep Dave

I have four CO2 tanks that have been running up to 10 years. Plants, like fish, have evolved and adapted to live in certain environments in nature. Some fish and plants are very tolerate of different water parameters, others are intolerant.

As mentioned pH deals with acidity. Water is nuetral at a pH of 7.0. At a pH higher than 7.0 water is alkaline, typically found in 'hard' water with an excess of calcium carbonate in the water. Water with a pH lower than 7.0 is acidic and is usually found in 'soft' water that are low in carbonates.

dKH stands for degrees of carbonate (Karbonat in German) hardness. It is how we measure the amount of of dissolved carbonates in the water. When we use carbon dioxide gas (CO2) in an aquarium we need a small amount of carbonate in the water or the pH will 'crash' when the CO2 is activated causing possible fish distress or death. I try to maintain a dKH of at least 3.0 - 4.0.

dGH stands for degrees of German or General hardness. It measures the amount of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) (along with some other metals) in the water. Most test kits only measure the amount of calcium and magnesium.

Plants in general do best in slightly acidic water (pH<7.0) softer water; I try to maintain a pH of 6.2 - 6.8 in my planted tanks. Conveniently, this type of water is preferred by most tropical fish with the exception of livebearers and African cichlids. The acid pH also helps the plants uptake of some nutrients, specifically some forms of iron. EDTA chelated iron is less than 50% effective at a pH of 7.0 or greater. Unfortunately EDTA iron is one of the more common forms of iron used in many aquarium fertilizers because it is inexpensive. Seachem (Flourish) Iron is made from ferrous gluconate and is much more available to plants if the pH is greater than 7.0.

Of the plants you listed, most do well in almost any water condition with the exception of Rotala species which seem to have a definite preference to softer water, nutrients through the substrate, and an acid pH. Hope this helps!

75 gallon planted with CO2
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Deep Dave

HI all,

Thanks for the great information and sharing such value with me.

I still have 2 doubts,

1) what are the ideal levels for all the above parameters?
2) Is dKH and KH the same?

On my API test kit, my reading is 2 in my 3G nano tank and 4 in my planted tank. Are these values fine?

Thanks once again
 

SeattleRoy

HI Deep Dave

The short answer is there are no 'ideal' parameters. I try to maintain water parameters in my tanks are first of all acceptable for the fish, that is primary. I purchase plants that can live within the parameters of the fish. I like to maintain softer, acidic water with a pH of 6.2 - 6.7, a dKH of 3.0 - 4.0 degress, a dGH of less than 7.0 degrees. This seems to work for most species of fish and most species of plants.

No, they are not the same. dKH measures the carbonate hardness / (calcium) carbonate concentration in the water and dGH (general hardness) measures the total amount of calcium (carbonates and non-carbonates) and magnesium in the water. If the hardness reading is "2" that tells me nothing; if the hardness reading is 2.0 dKH that tells me there little dissolved calcium in the water; if the hardness reading is 2.0 dGH that tells me not only is there little calcium in the water but also very little magnesium.......very, very soft water.
 

Deep Dave

Hi, Thanks for the reply.

After putting 2 drops of the KH liquid using the API test kit, my water changed colour from blue to yellow

The test kit says whatever the number of drops it needs to change colour is the KH of the water.

If I know my KH to be 2, how do I calculate dKH.

Regarding GH, I haven’t tested it yet.
 

SeattleRoy

HI Deep Dave

If you added to drops then your dKH is 2.0 - soft water; likely low in calcium.
 

Deep Dave

Thanks a lot for the help
 

Deep Dave

HI Deep Dave

If you added to drops then your dKH is 2.0 - soft water; likely low in calcium.
Sorry to bother you again, but do you think it’s worthwhile to raise the KH to around 4ish? By using maybe Seachem alkaline buffer?
 

SeattleRoy

HI Deep Dave

Your 2.0 dKH should be sufficient to avoid a pH crash in a tank with CO2. If you do want to increase the dKH I suggest using sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda not baking powder). 1/16 teaspoon of baking soda (NaHCO3) per 3 gallons increases dKH by about 1.0 dKH.
 

Deep Dave

Hi,

Thanks for the reply.

Like I mentioned in Post #4 my dKH is 2 in my nano tank. My nano tank does not have Co2 injection though, so basically lesser ph swings. So I think I will leave it as is then.

 

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