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Stabilizing your tank pH with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)


dnalex

The carbonate/bicarbonate system is one of the best biological buffers of pH, and is often used in aquaria to boost the alkalinity of systems (raising kH values). There is ready source of bicarbonate that aquarists can take advantage of, and that is baking soda (pure sodium bicarbonate).

There are several advantages to using baking soda as a buffer:

1. Cheap. I bought 12 pounds of baking soda for less than $7, while a 10.6 ounce bottle of Gold Buffer costs almost $14!

2. Easily available. Just go to any supermarket.

3. Works!

4. Doesn't affect the pH much. NOTE: All buffers will change your pH. Some will do so a lot, some a little. Baking soda won't change the pH that much, at the amounts you use. Keep in mind though, that if your pH is less than 7, it will bring it up to around 7.4-7.8.

5. We know exactly how much baking soda to add to raise kH by a certain amount. This is an extremely important, as it takes out the guesswork.

Disadvantages:

1. You have to keep adding with each water change, as opposed to crushed coral, for example.

2. It only raises kH, but does not raise gH, unlike crushed coral and some other buffer, for example.

3. This is critical. If you opt to use baking soda, you should take care to do a 100% WC in your tank every 2-3 months to avoid accumulation of too much sodium in the tank.

So, how much baking soda to add? I've made two tables (one in grams, the other in tablespoons) for your convenience. :D

Keep in mind that for goldfish and for optimal maintenance of beneficial bacteria, we want the kH to be around 100-150ppm. The same gH is ideal.

Bakingsodagrams_zpse3253ab8.png

Bakingsodateaspoons_zpsdd91dcbe.png

Source:

https://srac.tamu.ed...hfactsheet/248/

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Thank you so much for this post! I just bought a test kit and found out my water has 10ppm of kh and 50 gh :o

Use the tables as an approximate, and then test it again after you've added, OK? :)

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Thank you so much for this post! I just bought a test kit and found out my water has 10ppm of kh and 50 gh :o

Use the tables as an approximate, and then test it again after you've added, OK? :)

thanks again I'll get back to you after

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It has rained all week here so our acidic water has plummeted to 6.2 and extremely soft. So giving the baking soda a try.

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Awesome thread!

Thank you so much for this post! I just bought a test kit and found out my water has 10ppm of kh and 50 gh :o

A KH of 10 (German scale) or a KH of 10x17.8 = 178 ppm?

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Awesome thread!

Thank you so much for this post! I just bought a test kit and found out my water has 10ppm of kh and 50 gh :o

A KH of 10 (German scale) or a KH of 10x17.8 = 178 ppm?

KP,

That's a good question. German scales are usually in degrees (dH). :)

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This worked wonders! tested the water before and it took 1 drop of kh test for the water to turn yellow and I had a ph of 6.2. I slowly added in tank water mixed with 4 teaspoons of baking soda and after wards the ph is 7.4-7.6 and it took 7 drops of kh test kit for the water to turn yellow! this stuff is awesome and affordable.

DSC_0490_zps5874ad24.jpg

When I do a water change though will I just add back what I took out?

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When you do a WC for the first few times, you will want to check to see how much the kH has gone down, and then see how much you need to add back, based on those tables. Eventually, after a few WCs, you will see what you need to add back to maintain a stable pH.

I'm glad it's working for you!

I am all about cheap and effective! :rofl

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Alex, would adding a mix of potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate have any advantages? I'm just wondering why Seachem combines a few bicarbonate salts in their secret sauce.

Thanks!

Rob

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Alex, would adding a mix of potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate have any advantages? I'm just wondering why Seachem combines a few bicarbonate salts in their secret sauce.

Thanks!

Rob

This is just a guess, but I think it's so that they can differentiate it from plain baking soda, which is quite a bit cheaper. Also, it's so that they can provide some additional important minerals to the tank. Other than that, potassium and sodium bicarb aren't really all that different from each other, from their ability to not alter pH to being slightly basic.

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Thank you so much for this! I have been spending a lot of money on mysterious "kH powder", now I'm starting to suspect it's just repackaged baking soda! :o

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Thank you so much for this! I have been spending a lot of money on mysterious "kH powder", now I'm starting to suspect it's just repackaged baking soda! :o

and you are likely right.

Don't feel bad. We've all been there.

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:clapping I need to add some to my tank tomorrow! :nana mine is around 50 :yikes

How do you raise GH? Mine is about 70.

(When I get my canister though, a whole tray will be for crushed coral :D. And the rest bio noodles and then wherever the sponges go) :)

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The gH calculations will come soon, but there are also gH booster kits from green leaf aquariums and Planted Aquarium fertilizer. :)

There is also Seachem Equilibrium.

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Thank you so much for this! I have been spending a lot of money on mysterious "kH powder", now I'm starting to suspect it's just repackaged baking soda! :o

and you are likely right.

Don't feel bad. We've all been there.

Glad I'm not the only one!

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:clapping I need to add some to my tank tomorrow! :nana mine is around 50 :yikes

How do you raise GH? Mine is about 70.

(When I get my canister though, a whole tray will be for crushed coral :D. And the rest bio noodles and then wherever the sponges go) :)

Hi, Mike. I have used this for eight months, now, and I love it. There is info regarding dosing on the site.

http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com/index.asp?Option1=inven&EditU=2&Regit=7&ReturnOption1=cats&ReturnEdit=2&Returnitemname=&ReturnShowItemStart=

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kH (Carbonate hardness): 5~6dkH is idle in goldfish aquarium. It buffers and keeps the pH stable. Under 3 could result in pH crash if bio load is high or there is a long gap between water changes.

To raise kH by 1dkH/litre add baking soda 0.025 grams.

gH (general hardness): 8~9dgH is idle. Its primarily the levels of Calcium & Magnesium in the water. A 4:1 ratio of Ca:Mg is preferable in aquaria. Calcium chloride dihydrate and Epsom salt should be dissolved and added separately to the water column to raise gH. Mixing them together creates bonding and harmful crystals are formed. Change in gH should be done gradually to avoid stress.

To raise 1dgH/ litre add 

Calcium chloride dihydrate (for swimming pool)= 0.02 g

Espom salt = 0.0088 g

PS: 1dh (1 drop of Titration test kit) = 17.848 ppm

Use a jewellery weighing scale thats capable of measuring in mg.

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kH (Carbonate hardness): 5~6dkH is idle in goldfish aquarium. It buffers and keeps the pH stable. Under 3 could result in pH crash if bio load is high or there is a long gap between water changes.

To raise kH by 1dkH/litre add baking soda 0.025 grams.

gH (general hardness): 8~9dgH is idle. Its primarily the levels of Calcium & Magnesium in the water. A 4:1 ratio of Ca:Mg is preferable in aquaria. Calcium chloride dihydrate and Epsom salt should be dissolved and added separately to the water column to raise gH. Mixing them together creates bonding and harmful crystals are formed. Change in gH should be done gradually to avoid stress.

To raise 1dgH/ litre add

Calcium chloride dihydrate (for swimming pool)= 0.02 g

Espom salt = 0.0088 g

PS: 1dh (1 drop of Titration test kit) = 17.848 ppm

Use a jewellery weighing scale thats capable of measuring in mg.

I think these measures are not really doable for most of the people here, since most do not have access to jewelry scales.

I will post a different set of instructions, along with careful instructions on how to select calcium chloride. In the mean time, I would recommend staying with commercial sources of gH boosters, which are not that expensive anyway.

I also would like to check on the numbers presented above, and I won't have a chance to do that until later next week.

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Thanks for your reply Alex. Here's some more info regarding my technique.

I've used these figures for the last year or so, the kH and gH in my tank have been spot on and the fish are doing very well.

For example, gH of my tap water is 0, to achieve a value of 9 in say 10 litres of water I'll add:

Calcium chloride: 0.02g x 9(desired dgh)x 10 (volume of water to be replenished)= 1.8 grams

Espom salt: 0.0088g x9 x 10= 0.792 or 0.8grams.

Here's a link to the weighing scale I use which about 8 bucks from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B002SC3LLS/ref=pd_aw_sim_79_2?refRID=1FGPJQ8S7S9WXBTT95PS

Edited by gjmelb

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Thanks for your reply Alex. Here's some more info regarding my technique.

I've used these figures for the last year or so, the kH and gH in my tank have been spot on and the fish are doing very well.

For example, gH of my tap water is 0, to achieve a value of 9 in say 10 litres of water I'll add:

Calcium chloride: 0.02g x 9(desired dgh)x 10 (volume of water to be replenished)= 1.8 grams

Espom salt: 0.0088g x9 x 10= 0.792 or 0.8grams.

Here's a link to the weighing scale I use which about 8 bucks from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B002SC3LLS/ref=pd_aw_sim_79_2?refRID=1FGPJQ8S7S9WXBTT95PS

Thank you for the further explanation.

As I said...I need to verify that the ratios are correct (I'm sure they are, but I also need to do the formal checks, as I did with the baking soda tables I published), as well as some other notes to expand it.

I have been using the homemade gH booster that I made for the last 2.5-3 years, and it has worked well. However, being someone who is careful and not wanting to share until I am absolutely sure that what I am doing won't kill other people's fish, I have held off. :)

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I've been using baking soda to buffer my KH for a few months now and only just came across this thread.  I do weekly WC and buffer the fresh water and not adding into tank directly.  One thing I'm not clear about is the requirement for the 100% WC due to sodium build up.  Is this required in my case as I'm only replenishing the baking soda during  WC?

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On 5/7/2020 at 3:19 AM, kungfuman said:

I've been using baking soda to buffer my KH for a few months now and only just came across this thread.  I do weekly WC and buffer the fresh water and not adding into tank directly.  One thing I'm not clear about is the requirement for the 100% WC due to sodium build up.  Is this required in my case as I'm only replenishing the baking soda during  WC?

3. This is critical. If you opt to use baking soda, you should take care to do a 100% WC in your tank every 2-3 months to avoid accumulation of too much sodium in the tank.

yes you would still need to as its in the water and will build up over time. :) 

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