Tested all my water conditions, please help me understand KH, etc…

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by PaulT, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. PaulTNew MemberMember

    I'm fairly new to aquariums. In preparation of setting up a 55 gallon, I have been running a 10 gallon tank for six weeks now, which will become a quarantine tank in the future.

    It seems cycled, I used old media and fish without problems. 2 guppies, 5 zebra danio’s & 1 Pleco reside in tank, with 3 live plants.

    My current water conditions are: (using API master kit and KH+GH API kit)

    PH 7.6
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrite 0
    Nitrate 7.5

    Here is where I’m confused:

    KH = 1 drop only to get yellow (0-50ppm). BUT, I never had any blue they mention in the directions for kit.

    GH= approximately 6 or 7 drops to get the green I am looking for. That said, I never had any hint of orange the directions mention the water will start with. And the green I do get is very pale! Barely green.

    With both KH and GH the directions state I’ll begin with a certain colour in the tube and add drops until I reach the colour I’m looking for to satisfy the test application.

    Well, for both test I never had the “starting” colour so I just added drops until the appropriate colour resulted as per the test.

    Is my KH to low, should I be worried? What about GH?

    I plan on setting up the 55 gallon the same way with angelfish and maybe clown loaches.

    Comments and insights on overall water conditions would be helpful.

    Thank you. Paul
  2. Annie424Well Known MemberMember

    If it only took one drop to get yellow on your KH test, then I'd say you have very low KH. You may want to look into getting some crushed coral to raise it. It will also raise your pH, but without a stable KH you will be prone to having pH crashes (been there, done that, not fun). My pH was also 7.6 before I added crushed coral, and it now sits around 7.8-8.2. I always thought that was high, but have since learned here that most fish can adapt to a higher pH and a stable pH is way more important to their health and wellbeing than any 'magic number' pH. :) When you are testing, are you adding one drop, capping the tube, and shaking it, uncapping, add another drop, cap, shake, repeat repeat repeat? With your GH test, what color was the test water prior to the 6-7 drops?
  3. MikeRad89

    MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    Your gH is fine. Your kH is quite low, and raising it will help to buffer your pH and prevent swings. Adding cuttlebone (my favorite form of carbonates) to the tank or filter will help a lot. Crushed coral is also good for raising kH but will also raise pH somewhat, and is far more expensive than cuttlebone.

  4. OP

    PaulTNew MemberMember

    RE: am I shaking test tube between individual drops - Yes, I am. Capping, adding a drop, shake, repeat...

    RE: GH Test & what color was water before adding 6-7 drops:
    The color was clear the entire time until I added the 6th drop. #7 was still a very light / pale green.

    I'm a little concerned about my GH, should I be? It appears on the soft side, correct?

    I will do some research on adding the crushed coral, thank you. On a side note, The 55 gal. tank I bought used came with a softball sized piece of coral (tropical tank) Maybe I should add that, for now?

    I'll look into cuttlebone as well, I've never heard of that. I assume the LFS sells it?

    thank you for your comments, others welcome to!

  5. oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

    Hello Paul...

    It would be smart to test the tank water daily for a week or so to be sure it's cycled. Cycling a tank can take up to 60 days, though most of the time it takes about half this time. If you have several daily tests with no traces of ammonia or nitrite, then the tank is cycled. The reason I say this is, the Pleco isn't recommended for cycling a tank, the species isn't tolerant of the changes in the water chemistry that happen during the nitrogen cycle. The others are fine.

  6. OP

    PaulTNew MemberMember

    Follow up: LFS "guy", whom I just spoke with stated our Valley here is know for soft water...

    He suggest a KH chemical boost, as it won't raise PH.

    I guess I enter into gray area. I don't want to use chemicals if I don't have to and I don't want to raise the PH (7.6) as the future tank which I assume will have similar water readings will have clown loaches and Angle fish...

    Maybe cuttlebone is the option?

    Input please...Thanks!

    PS: I found the pleco in a tablespoon of water in an aquarium someone had put on the curb, so she's a rescue. So she was included in the cylcling process, which also used the dirty subtrate and filter media.

    Tank is aprox 6 weeks old and since May 22 I've had zero nitrites and zero ammonia. Nitrates since May 22 = 7.50
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
  7. Annie424Well Known MemberMember

    Unfortunately, you can't raise the KH without also raising the pH, so far as I know. I'm tagging CindiL as I think she is the guru about things KH. I think even cuttlebone would eventually raise the pH, although I can't imagine how much of it you'd have to use to raise your KH....my understanding is that the crushed coral doesn't really release minerals until the pH is dropping (which is bad) and knowing what I do about cuttlebone (I keep parrots - you will most likely find it in the bird section of your local pet store instead of at your LFS) I don't see how it would leach out much unless the pH is dropping...similar to the action of crushed coral...it would be a slow release when things start to go south, not an immediate change. I don't blame you for not wanting to use chemicals...pH UP/pH Down are a stop-gap measure at best.
  8. MikeRad89

    MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    Cuttlebone will not raise your pH at all. It's argonite, almost pure calcium carbonate. It is the best way, and safest way, to raise kH IME. Your gH is fine, no need to raise it.

    Do not use chemicals to raise kH, gH or pH.
  9. OP

    PaulTNew MemberMember

    I'm easily influenced, with this forums advice and Google I'm thus far leaning towards Cuttlebone to raise the KH.

    Is there a suggested amount to add to both a 10 and 55 gal. tank? I know it's trial and error but what are some of the suggested started points in raising the KH?

    Will I be adding X-amount of cuttlebone every weekly water change, monthly, etc?
    Breaking off little chunks, adding big pieces, etc ?

    IE: How much cuttlebone does one start with and what trends should I look for?
  10. MikeRad89

    MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    If you have a HOB filter put one whole cuttlebone in the back of the filter. Break it in half to promote dissolving. Test your kH in 4-5 days and go from there.
  11. Annie424Well Known MemberMember

    I'd still look into crushed coral. It is not instant (neither would be the cuttlebone) but I'm thinking you'd use less coral and it might be easier to monitor. Which means your tank will acclimate easily, and you can control the amount (i.e. a 1/4 cup, a 1/2 cup, etc) . Not to say that cuttlebone is not similar, but that it might be harder to determine the amount and whether it will work the same. I don't know that you'd be able to as easily monitor the dosage. Maybe you could, I don't know. But please, if you can provide personal experience, I'm very open to whatever might be the best way to maintain the health of my tanks....I love my tanks and am always open to a better way to provide as close to a natural environment in the 'un-natural' environment they are in being in a fish tank instead of out there in the wild. I'm looking at cuttlebone as a calcium supplement for invertebrates, but not as a way to raise KH. How much you'd need to raise KH, I have no idea. But am thinking it would be a lot (like a few whole pieces), and a slower adjustment. Just my thoughts.
  12. MikeRad89

    MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    I feel like you're trying to dissuade the OP from doing something that better suits his needs. Crushed coral is going to raise his pH, likely to around 8. Cuttlebone is cheaper and more effective in this case.
  13. OP

    PaulTNew MemberMember

    Thank you all for you input, I feel like have the information I need.

    Because I don't want to raise my PH right now I'm going with Cuttlebone. If the 55 gallon instead becomes a Cichled tank, I can see the value of crushed coral. Great that I have options like the cuttlebone vs. Coral.

    I suspect lower KH is a part of where I live so learning to adjust for it without the need to default to chemicals is great.

    I want to get this all worked out before cycling the 55 gallon. I want that process to go flawless with no fish loss, if I can help it.

    My happy little 10 gallon with a modified statue bubbler on the left.
  14. Annie424Well Known MemberMember

    @MikeRad89, not all....If using cuttlebone raises the KH enough than that is wonderful and suits the needs. But the pH is still going to go up. That's just science. I don't have enough information or personal experience to determine whether cuttlebone is the best alternative. If it is, that is absolutely wonderful and will help not only me but others immensely. And I will be dumping cuttlebone into my filter and substrate to see what happens. And taking measurements as scientifically as I can. I do have to feed my inner scientific geek, whatever form that takes. And ultimately, we need to take what works, and build upon it.
  15. MikeRad89

    MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    I don't mean to toot my own horn here, or be disrespectful towards you at all. I'm an analytical scientist, my life revolves around chemistry. That being said, I have a fair understand of water hardness and pH.

    The kH is simply the amount of dissolved carbonates in the water; whether they be potassium carbonate, calcium carbonate, etc. These carbonates buffer the pH preventing shifts. It is feasible to have a pH of 6.5 with a high kH, and equally as feasible to have a pH of 8.5 with a high kH. If you were to choose to change the pH value of either one you'd have to lower the kH value to get the pH to move.

    gH is what causes an increase or decrease in pH. Higher TDS: salts, ferts, etc = higher pH.

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