On the hunt for new buffers - GH/KH

Discussion in 'Water Conditioners and Supplements' started by ryanr, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Hi all,
    Well I finally ran out of my GH and KH buffers, and thought I'd explore the market a little bit.

    Up until now, I've been using products from the LFS to buffer (replenish) my GH and KH, which seem to work well, and part of me says "If it works, keep using it", another part says "could I use something better".

    I don't actually know what is in the current buffers I use, which concerns me a little, but they seem to work.

    Our tap water is extremely soft. pH 6.8-7.0, GH 3 degrees, KH 0-1 degree (goes green straight away) using Sera liquid test. TDS is 28-32ppm (so not much in it)

    I buffer the KH to around 3-4 degrees, and the GH to around 7-8 degrees. And the pH becomes whatever it becomes (I don't test it)

    Why you might ask - well having let these levels slip, my plants definitely struggled, and BBA was getting a good foot hold in the tank. Since getting back on top of it, the BBA has subsided (probably the constant carbon from KH), and my plants are growing and are a lot greener.

    So my choices are:
    Keep using the LFS stuff that seems to work.
    Look at products like:
    Replenish from Seachem
    Equilibrium from Seachem [although this one scares me a little as it looks like it's based on adjusting pH]
    Or start a very regimented regime of dosing Flourish, Excel and NPK supplements?

    What are people's thoughts? Are there any other products I should consider?

    Please note: This buffering is not about chasing a pH number (as stated, I don't measure it), it's about restoring minerals etc into the water column for plants.

    Appreciate the feedback. Oh and all relevant details are in my info ;)


  2. toosieWell Known MemberMember

    When ever I come across a GH/KH issue, I always recommend using crushed coral, crushed oystershells, or argonite placed in a media bag in the filtration system. Start small and wait a few days to see the results. If a further increase is needed, just add a little more until you get the desired results. This media bag will keep things stable in your tank for quite some time. The rate the products leach dictate how long it will be before you need to add more, or change it out, whichever you decide to do at the time so no two systems are the same which makes it hard to predict how long the product will last for you.

  3. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Thanks Toosie. I thought about doing that too.

    Hurdle 1 (in my head), My canister is full, and I'm a little hesitant to remove any of the media to fit another bag. Only because the whole system is so established, and I don't particularly won't to deal with a potential mini-cycle.

    Hurdle 2 (again in my head), by buffering my water, I can buffer the change water prior to adding to avoid parameters swings. I do 20% changes every week. In my head, I can't help but think that the system will constantly be playing catch-up so to speak.

    Hurdle 3 - I'm lazy. I quite enjoy only servicing my filter every 3 months or so. <herein lies my problem :giggle:>

    Maybe I'll do a little more reading on using arognite/coral etc, maybe things will make more sense in my head.

    Thanks again.

  4. toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Well, we do all have our own reasons for doing the things we do, so I won't try to sway you one way or the other. If what you have been doing seems to be working for you then I can't argue with that. Unfortunately I don't have any good advice as far as any of the other products that are out there so hopefully somebody else here will be able to help you further.
  5. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Ahh, I can be swayed, I just need to understand it more first ;)

    The 'scientist' in my head argues with the unpredictability, I like measured and controlled. The 'naturalist' in my head says crushed coral type approach. Angel vs Devil on the shoulders hehehe
  6. toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Ahh, well then... let me think out loud with you for a few minutes.

    You have a legitimate problem with the low GH and KH, and buffering your tank could indeed complicate water changes for your fish because you would be using water without adequate minerals which could affect them adversely. Being a water mixer myself, I understand the need for control.

    How much water do you typically change on water change day, and how often do you change it? The reason I'm asking, and this might not be a feasible solution for you, but... if you have a basement or other area you could use, you could get a large food safe container, empty aquariums, or even a rubbermaid bin to pre-treat the water in. You could place argonite for instance, into this container. A powerhead would work to circulate the water to provide optimum results, and you could also use a heater to bring the water to the proper aquarium temp. If the prep-tank isn't located too far away from your fish tanks, you could use the powerhead to transfer the water from one "tank" to the other, or a larger pump if a powerhead is too small.

    If for some reason the prep-tank became too hard, you could easily enough dilute the water with your regular water before using it for the fish tank.

    Yeah, I'm open to critisism to my ideas so, let me have it. :)
  7. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    I add Epsom Salt for Magnesium (GH). I also have a cichlid substrate, just half the tank has it this also adds calcium and magnesium. Clam shells from my beach are also in there.

    My tap water is 0 KH/GH 2* so I know all about it.
  8. MatildaLjungbergValued MemberMember

    I too have to use a buffering product due to the water being extremely soft in my area. I use a combination of Seachem Gold Buffer & Seachem Replenish to stabilize the GH & KH as well as a product called Wonder Shells. They all work very well for me & I would recommend them without hesitation. Crushed coral did nothing for me unfortunately.
  9. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    I have a couple of GH/KH homemade recipes that are as safe as you can get and i guarantee it works well.

    Otherwise, crushed coral will work well if you are aiming to simply raise the pH, GH and KH slightly.

    If you want a buffer, theres only one i recommend:

    Seachem, they are the only brand i have found that is open about their processes and ingredients which explains alot. As for Wonder shells, its the same thing as crushed coral, just they leech faster.

    This will help the understanding a bit: https://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/ph/113548-understanding-ph-kh-gh-home-aqauriums.html
  10. zeketazValued MemberMember

    Depending on the substrate you use you could always add the crushed coral directly to the tank. Maybe put it in areas that are hidden
  11. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    This works well when working with finite changes in the pH and electrolytes. There isnt enough flow to increase the leeching in the crushed coral. I do agree though it is still an option. Over time this does have a noticeable effect but thats ussually like 3 months or more, depending on the current in the tank and also the amount used.
  12. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Thanks everyone.

    Appreciate the thoughts/ideas.

    Here's my plan - I have to do something because it's now w/c day.

    I'm not comfortable enough with other products/processes yet, soooo.....

    - I'm going to get the smallest containers of the LFS stuff I've been using, it gives me a known result, and seems to be working well (If it ain't broke, don't fix it)
    - I'm going to keep looking and understanding the other methods, and eventually change over to something more 'natural'

    So keep the ideas coming, I appreciate it. :;hf
  13. MatildaLjungbergValued MemberMember

    I must respectfully disagree with this comment. Wonder Shells contain more then just calcium. They are made up of many different minerals & trace elements. My water is so lacking in these & I truly believe they are a benefit to my tanks. :;2cents
  14. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    Keep in mind crushed coral isnt just calcium either. It also contains magnesium, chloride and sodium which does make it a very good broad spectrum KH and GH buffer. Wonder shells are just manufactured to leech these minerals faster hence why more results are seen from it.
  15. TetryonValued MemberMember

    You could get a small HOB filter and hang the bag of crushed coral / puka shells in the output.

    The amount of water you change will have a negligible effect on the pH. You can just add the dechlorinated water without treating it with much else. The minerals and bicarbonate already in the water will mix with the new water. Though I suppose the larger the tank, the better.
  16. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    I have to disagree with this statement.

    Lets suppose the tank's pH is at 8.5 and the source water is 7.5.

    A 50% change will cause the pH to drop to 8.0. That is very far from a negligible effect. This I know because of my african tank that has this exact predicament above.
  17. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for all the feedback, and I welcome more ideas.

    Source water is 6.8-7 (in the OP), I have no idea what the tank is though, I don't chase pH, and don't even bother testing it. And weekly w/c's are about 20-25%.

    I've been doing lots of reading about various natural techniques, so I'll have a solution soon.
  18. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    good to hear!

    Good luck

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