Struggling with KH and PH

michaelsf90

I've been battling my soft water for what seems like forever. I have soft water fish but snails in my main tank so I'm chasing a ph of around 7.2 and a higher kh than 1. I settle for a kh of 2. I used crushed coral in the filter and when changing the water used baking soda to get the ph to 7.2. This worked for a while but after a week I noticed the ph was dropping to below 7. So I added more crushed coral and instead of using baking soda I used seachem alkaline buffer. Again doing the same. Trying to achieve a ph of 7.2. From the tap the water is ph 6.6 or 6.8 and kh of 1. Gh at the minute is 2. It was 5. In my shrimp tank I use equilibrium to raise gh and in turn even tho it says it doesnt it raises ph. But my main concern in that tank is gh. But in my main tank the ph is now 7.5. Should I stop using alkaline buffer and go back to using baking soda? I'm just getting frustrated with it all and feel like its battle I'm never going to win
 

MacZ

I'm just getting frustrated with it all and feel like its battle I'm never going to win

Just going by the laws of nature (in this case physics and chemistry) you will have to keep adding minerals with every waterchange, thus this is a never-ending war. That's not going to change unless the laws of nature change. Which is not to be expected within the next 1-2 billion years.

I would simply take the water as is, stop keeping standard shrimp or snails alltogether and focus on species that do well in those parameters. There are hundreds and thousands of hobbyists that would pay lots of money for those parameters straight from the tap.
 
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michaelsf90

I know but I cannot bring myself to get rid of my snails and shrimp. My rabbit snails are probably my favourites and their are babies as well. Is it just a case of maybe removing some crushed coral or using less alkaline buffer to get it 7.2? Before I added crushed coral my ph dropped to below 6 the water is that soft. The crushed coral kept the ph at around 7 but then once it exhausted I've struggled to find a balance since I've had to replenish it. As for shrimp I got them six months ago. But two have died through failing to molt. Gh is at 8 now. Kh is still low
 
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MacZ

If you want to keep them then you will have to regularly replace crushed coral, which I definitely recommend over using any buffers or baking soda, as it brings the water to a natural saturation level that is never harmful, in contrast to a possible accidental overdose of buffer powders.

Crushed coral has to be replaced regularly, as with each waterchange you remove minerals that have dissolved from it into the water. Depending on the amounts you use and the levels in the untreated water this can vary between every 2-3 weeks and 2-3 months. The pH does not have to be exactly 7.2. Be it 6.8, 7 or 7.2, doesn't make much of a difference.
Problem with CC as a natural product: Beforehand, you can only estimate levels from experience, not calculate them.
For your invertebrates the GH reading is key for sufficient calcium. Ask richiep. The pH just has to stay above 6.0 because in pH lower than this shells will dissolve.
 
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michaelsf90

Gh is sufficient for the shrimp and more so for shrimp than snails. I got told kh is more important for snails. In the main tank I will stick with crushed coral. I was adding baking soda to water when doing water changes so the ph of water added is 7 or 7.2 rather than 6.6. So the ph matches the ph of the tank rather than being lower. If that makes sense. The shrimp are in their own tank so that's a separate battle
 
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richiep

With fluctuations you're seeing you can guarantee problems with your shrimp, anything below gh5 and you'll get moult issues and deaths, even though you've now got gh8 doesn't necessarily mean your out of the woods,that gh1 would already done the damage so they'll either molt or die trying to on the next one
The other obstacle you face are the fluctuations which shrimp can't take, your backs against the wall on this one until you get stability so I wouldn't add anymore shrimp until your happy you're on top of things.
MacZ and mattgirl knowledge on water chemistry is the best you'll get as far as I'm concerned
Your other option and would give you complete control on your water is to change to RO Water and reminerilse,
I'm saying that with shrimp in mind only, your fish may still live through your problems
 
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MacZ

I got told kh is more important for snails.

At best indirectly with KH determining the pH. Otherwise snails need calcium and magnesium just as shrimp do.

your backs against the wall on this one until you get stability so I wouldn't add anymore shrimp until your happy you're on top of things.

Agree. Get the water in order before getting any new animals.

Your other option and would give you complete control on your water is to change to RO Water and reminerilse,
I'm saying that with shrimp in mind only, your fish may still live through your problems

I also agree on that one.

So whatever way you turn and twist it: It comes down to the water lacking minerals that need to be added, be it the almost RO from the tap or actual RO. And as long as this is the case, fluctuations will be your steady company on your way. Complete stability won't be possible, nor is there a way that doesn't mean regular water chemistry maintenance.
Maybe at least try to get out of your head that all numbers have to be matched exactly. Keep GH over 8 and pH over 6 and everything else should fall into place.
 
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michaelsf90

What about kh tho. Shall I just get it to 2 or 3 and leave it at that? Stop using alkaline buffer and go for crushed coral in the filter only? Kh from the tap is 1 but crushed coral must be raising it as in the tank its 2. I wouldn't know where to start with adding minerals to the water
 
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mattgirl

The water straight from my tap is almost devoid of minerals. The gh/kh tests drove me crazy trying to figure out what they were telling me. What I do may not be the right way to do it but I go by what my TDS meter and pH liquid test is telling me.

The TDS straight from the tap is 21 and the pH is 7.2 I found over time my pH drops to 7 or sometimes a bit lower so I run crushed coral in all of my tanks. It holds the pH at a constant 7.2

I use Equilibrium to raise the TDS in my shrimp bowl up to 150. Just before my weekly water change the TDS in the shrimp bowl has normally risen up to 160/165. I actually do bigger water changes in the bowl than is normally recommended but I feel the reason it works for me is because I make sure the parameters of water I am replacing is as close to what I took out as I can get it. The only difference is the TDS is slightly lower in the fresh water.

To refill the bowl I don't pour it in, I drip it in with a piece of airline tubing with a control valve on the bowl end. With it I can control how slow or fast the water drops in.

By doing what I do and the way I've done it my little colony of 10 shrimp have grown into the hundreds during the year or so this bowl has been up and running. Try not to get too hung up on the numbers. In my humble opinion consistency it the best thing to strive for. These little guys don't handle drastic swings well. Find a spot you can constantly keep it at even if it isn't what you've read is the ideal range and your little guys should stay healthy. Close is good enough as long as it is consistent.
 
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michaelsf90

TDS 150 is perfect for shrimp. I have a ph meter but no tds one. I aim for 8 GH. Does equilibrium raise your ph for your shrimp? Equilibrium says it doesnt raise ph but for me it does
 
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mattgirl

TDS 150 is perfect for shrimp. I have a ph meter but no tds one. I aim for 8 GH. Does equilibrium raise your ph for your shrimp? Equilibrium says it doesnt raise ph but for me it does
It is strange that it raises yours. It doesn't affect mine.
 
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michaelsf90

I have no idea why. I dont off gas the water. When I'm doing water changes I fill a bucket. Dechlorinate. Test ph and itll be between 6.6 and 6.8. Add equilibrium. Get hardness up to 6 and ph will be about 7.4. All this is just in a bucket. Not in the tank. It's a strange one. And the ph in the shrimp tank is now around 7.8
 
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mattgirl

I have no idea why. I dont off gas the water. When I'm doing water changes I fill a bucket. Dechlorinate. Test ph and itll be between 6.6 and 6.8. Add equilibrium. Get hardness up to 6 and ph will be about 7.4. All this is just in a bucket. Not in the tank. It's a strange one. And the ph in the shrimp tank is now around 7.8
You may want to set some water out. Don't add anything to it. If possible run an airstone in it. Test it straight out of the tank faucet and again in 24 hours. It may not be the Equilibrium or anything you are adding causing what you are seeing. Quite often folks find the true pH is different than what it is straight out of the tap. For some it is higher and for others it is lower. The number you see after it has gassed off is your true pH reading.
 
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michaelsf90

But I still need to add equilibrium to raise ph regardless of the ph level. And why does the ph rise straight after adding equilibrium. It doesnt off gas or anything. I will leave a cup 24 hours and see what the results are
 
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michaelsf90

Will it not raise ph because it contains calcium? Even tho seachem state it doesnt affect ph
 
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MacZ

No, calcium has no influence on the pH. Carbonates do, as do any bases.

Typical Seachem.

Edit: The website doesn't say anything about pH. Only mentions GH and KH.
 
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michaelsf90

I've heard of salty shrimp gh+. I wonder if that will raise gh without affecting ph. I may as well use the equilibrium now I have it and it's doing a job of raising gh which I suppose for the shrimp is the most important thing. Whenever I do a water change as well I siphon the water in and a tie a knot in the hose so it drips in over the space of an hour
 
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LowConductivity

I've heard of salty shrimp gh+. I wonder if that will raise gh without affecting ph. I may as well use the equilibrium now I have it and it's doing a job of raising gh which I suppose for the shrimp is the most important thing. Whenever I do a water change as well I siphon the water in and a tie a knot in the hose so it drips in over the space of an hour

could always go the diy route via Amazon. A pound of Calcium sulfate dihydrate, and magnesium sulfate are pretty cheap GH. I use the above mentioned GH in my blackwater growout tanks. PH is 5 before the additions, and 5 after.
 
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