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SweetMamaKaty

pH, KH, & GH numbers are all over the place - help me fix it?

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I've slowly been coming to the realization that my pH, KH, and GH are out of whack.  I could use some help getting a handle on how to correct it.  I'm hoping to use as few chemicals and outside means as possible, but in the end, I'll do whatever I need to make it work.  Sorry if this ends up kind of long,  :blahblah I just want to put it all out there in case some of the pieces of the puzzle are important.  

 

My tap pH is 7.4 and my tank is routinely 8.2.  For the entire time I've thought my tap pH had to be 8.0 because it was a tan color and I didn't think it could be that far off.  But I recently called my water dept (because I've become suspicious that constantly fluctuating pH could be causing some of the illnesses in my tank), and they said the city's pH is usually around 7.

 

So I figured that must have meant my KH and GH are too low because of our water softener, and are causing fluctuation.  I tested them tonight - KH was 14 drops, and GH was 1.  I hunted up my record of the test I did before, and last February I got something like 17 and 1 - very similar.

 

So if my KH is super high like that, wouldn't it mean my pH "should" be more stable than it is?  Or is the fact that the GH is so low what's causing the fluctuation?  I think it's weird that one can be so high and the other so low - is that normal?

 

I found this great flow chart that is telling me I need to start aging my water for the difference between the tap and tank pH, and that something should also be done about the GH being under 100.  That post references crushed coral, and I have also read a little about aragonite sand.  I think I'd rather go the sand route and just swap it out for the regular sand I have now - as long as that's the right thing to do - and will work?  I would SO much rather have this sand than be measuring and dosing things with each water change.  I want to see if we have any water access before the softener that I could check the parameters, but I'm not too optimistic on that front.

 

Reading about the aragonite, it states it helps keep a stable 8.2 pH - but my tank pH always seems to be about 8.2 anyway - so how does it help?  I guess I don't understand what good the higher GH does if not to keep the pH down to what it comes out of the tap at.

 

Last (for now  :lol2 ), I have to confess, drawing off 35-40 gallons and storing it for 24 hours just to do a 50% wc feels like a death-sentence to me, in that it kills the fun by adding a major hassle.  I have busy little kiddos, so the water would have to be in containers that seal and are childproof.  The only thing I can think of is 5 gallon buckets, but that would be 7-8 of them in my living room.   :doh11:  Is there any way I can get around that?  Is there some way I could just remove the fish for the wc, mix some fabulous pH product right in the tank to bring it immediately back up to 8.2, and then put them back in?  I would do that in a heartbeat even at a cost - but does such a product exist?  

 

If you read this far, give yourself a gold star. :rofl   Thanks!

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I talked a little about this in the LTAF thread where I mentioned the buffer I use -- Seachem Malawi Victoria Buffer which brings the ph right up to between 7.8 and 8.4 (to get exactly 8.0 I add 1/4 tsp and 1/8 tsp to each 5 gallon bucket). I also put a little mesh bag of crushed coral in the filter to keep it stabilized (1/4 cup of the coral per 20 gallons, and it also works as a place for beneficial bacteria to grow). You don't have to age the water that long in my experience. Just long enough to let the buffer dissolve -- I make mine 15-20 minutes before I change the water. 

Edited by goldfishgirl82

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I'll be happy to answer this once I'm done watching football. :donthit:

#SadButTrue. :rofl3

I did read it all. Do I still get the gold star? :lol2

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I talked a little about this in the LTAF thread where I mentioned the buffer I use -- Seachem Malawi Victoria Buffer which brings the ph right up to between 7.8 and 8.4 (to get exactly 8.0 I add 1/4 tsp and 1/8 tsp to each 5 gallon bucket). I also put a little mesh bag of crushed coral in the filter to keep it stabilized (1/4 cup of the coral per 20 gallons, and it also works as a place for beneficial bacteria to grow). You don't have to age the water that long in my experience. Just long enough to let the buffer dissolve -- I make mine 15-20 minutes before I change the water. 

Thank you!  I was thinking there was some reason that one wouldn't work for my situation, but I have looked at so many things now I don't remember why... :rofl

 

So much raising and lowering being mentioned in the product descriptions my head could spin, so thank you for bringing this one back up. :)

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So I wonder if KH and GH play into that one at all?

 

I'll be happy to answer this once I'm done watching football. :donthit:

#SadButTrue. :rofl3

I did read it all. Do I still get the gold star? :lol2

 

:rofl Yes, that was a novella, gold stars for everyone!

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Not sure if I understand your last question, but I know that after I started using the buffer my KH normalized and is back in a range it should be in. Straight out of the tap it is way below what it should be. Not sure if this helps or is what you're asking, but thought I'd add it. 

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Not sure if I understand your last question, but I know that after I started using the buffer my KH normalized and is back in a range it should be in. Straight out of the tap it is way below what it should be. Not sure if this helps or is what you're asking, but thought I'd add it. 

Thanks, everything helps at this point!  I feel like I'm always a step behind, learning the things I should already know.    Sounds like this could potentially be my wonder-cure.  Out of curiosity, are your GH and KH both way low, or skewed like mine with one high and one low?

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Couple questions

Your tank pH is stable (8.2) but your tank and tap are far off from each other? :idont

Can you post a pic of your tap pH results? Use both regular and high range pH and post the pic next to the color scale . . . .

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Yeah, it's weird, they always look the same, but they're always very different from each other.

 

I'll get on the tap pH now!

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Not sure if I understand your last question, but I know that after I started using the buffer my KH normalized and is back in a range it should be in. Straight out of the tap it is way below what it should be. Not sure if this helps or is what you're asking, but thought I'd add it. 

Thanks, everything helps at this point!  I feel like I'm always a step behind, learning the things I should already know.    Sounds like this could potentially be my wonder-cure.  Out of curiosity, are your GH and KH both way low, or skewed like mine with one high and one low?

 

 

I will have to test the GH. I didn't have a test kit for it until last week. 

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Not sure if I understand your last question, but I know that after I started using the buffer my KH normalized and is back in a range it should be in. Straight out of the tap it is way below what it should be. Not sure if this helps or is what you're asking, but thought I'd add it. 

Thanks, everything helps at this point!  I feel like I'm always a step behind, learning the things I should already know.    Sounds like this could potentially be my wonder-cure.  Out of curiosity, are your GH and KH both way low, or skewed like mine with one high and one low?

 

 

I will have to test the GH. I didn't have a test kit for it until last week. 

 

Oh ok - no rush, just curious!

 

My tap with the normal pH test on the left and high on the right - even now I couldn't tell you which tan that is.  :wacko:

IMG_34341_zps0p1kx2b1.jpg

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7.6 normal 7.4 high to my eyes anyway. The high pH test doesn't have that orangey/red color as far as I can tell so that's why I think it's 7.4 over 7.8

Edited by Mikey

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To be honest, I have a hard time reading the tan colors as well. 

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I find the high range pH almost unreadable in real life, but that picture clearly says 7.4.  

 

Do you have a tap anywhere that comes before the water softener?  Outdoor taps qualify, except for their inconvenience in the winter.  :)  You can get one put in so you can use the harder water for your fish.

 

Smaller, more frequent water changes will keep a nearly constant pH in the tank without any aging.  Goldfish like constant water conditions.    If you want to do this, just tell me how much water you change weekly and how frequently you want to change the water, and I can give you an equivalent water change schedule. 

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Thanks Sharon.  I have 4 fish now in a 72 gallon tank, so you tell me I guess what I should be doing WC-wise, and I'll do it!  I'd like to not change more than 2x week if possible.  I'm doing prazi right now on the 5-day schedule, and I like that spacing.  But I know that the pH is already up in that amount of time, so do you mean you would be giving me the % to keep the swing down without adding products at each WC?

 

We do have an outdoor faucet.  I wondered about running a hose from there in the summer... but what about the temperature difference?  I will have to check about having something plumbed in, because that would be nice to have.  I think my GH and KH numbers from last February were before we got the softener though, so I'd still have to do something to lower my KH and raise my GH (I think?)

 

Which brings me to that question.  Aside from correcting and stabilizing the pH, does anyone know the best things to use for the KH/GH portion of the problem?  Or would the Malawi Victoria buffer do it all by correcting the pH?  I'm really having a hard time wrapping my head around this, I'm sorry!  The way a lot of things read, they are raising all 3 numbers, but that scares me since I'm starting out with a high KH already.  I read that high KH can be as damaging as ammonia poisoning, which really shocked me, and made me wish I had pursued this when I first tested last year.  At that point I really didn't understand the numbers or what to do with them, which is why I want to get a handle on it once and for all.

 

The only thing I have really found about lowering KH is to use RO - and we do have an RO system, but I thought from back when we were putting it in I was told that would not be good for goldfish? Ah-ha, the coral is to raise GH, so I think I understand that, and the aragonite sand is sand made from coral (I think?)

 

Sorry my thought process is so choppy.

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What about something like this? It says it converts KH to CO2, which might be good - but that it also lowers pH, which I'm unsure of.  Then it looks like people buy this along with it, and it mentions raising GH, which would be good.  I don't want to make it more complicated than it needs to be though.

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I have never heard of a KH that was too high for goldfish.  Where did you hear that?  KH stabilizes pH and fish want a stable pH.  Likewise, goldfish don't care much about GH.  If your GH was 1 (very soft) why do you have a water softener? 

 

I really don't understand the problem.  If you have a high KH and a stable tank pH in the low 8s (like I do) why do you want to change this?

 

Lisa is our expert on GH and KH, perhaps she can figure it out.

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i am also not understanding.. but here are some handy guidlines..

 

KHGHConversionChartAPIWaterTestKit_zpsd9

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In searching for info, I found another goldfish forum (  :hide: ) that said KH should be 70-120, and not exceed 120.  They said too high levels could cause burns like ammonia, but I don't know where they got the info.  The 100 minimum for GH, I saw in the flow chart here, but didn't know the reason behind it.  That's a good question about the water softener, because I don't know what it's changing, except that we don't have the white lime build up on things we used to have, and it has the 'soft water feel' that there wasn't before.  I guess the lime was the main reason we got it.

 

I guess I thought my pH was unstable because it changes so much from tap to tank - but you're right, after that, it never really changes, as my tank almost always has been at 8.2.  So it sounds like I need to embrace that number rather than my tap then, do coral/sand to bring up the GH, and try to learn about the KH thing, whether there truly is any risk or not?

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i am also not understanding.. but here are some handy guidlines..

 

KHGHConversionChartAPIWaterTestKit_zpsd9

 

Thank you Helen.  So this means goldfish should be ok all the way from 100-400?  And mine was something like 250.  Then I guess my main problem then is just the huge jump from existing tank water at 8.2 down to 7.4 tap when I was doing the huge 80/90/100% WCs, which can be avoided now.

 

I have no idea how my GH can be just 1 with such a high KH, but if that part isn't as important I can stop worrying about it.

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I'm with Sharon on this.  I wouldn't mess with KH or pH.  I don't remember every reading that KH could be too high. :idont  And if your pH is stable (which is should be with such a high KH), then I'd leave it.

 

As far as GH, I would try and raise that using a product such as Seachem Equilibrium.

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As a rule of thumb, the less you mess around with your water the better.  Goldfish tolerate a vast array of water conditions as long as they don't experience shock from rapid change.

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Why don't you just bypass the water softener when doing water changes? I'm pretty sure most water softeners have a simple type of bypass valve since many people can't handle the extra sodium ions in their drinking water.

 

I just skimmed through the thread so maybe I missed it but never listen to what your water authority claims they are releasing. I used to be a certified water plant operator (disclaimer: I never worked in the field, just did the course work and passed my state exam) with the state of Florida and I doubt any treatment plant would release water with a ph of 7.0. That is way too corrosive for the distribution lines and they always buffer it on the alkaline side. Many plants also share water with other plants when needs arise, use different water sources, storm impacts, and they big old chlorine flush from time to time. If you've ever seen a lime slaking operation it will make your stomach turn knowing that is going to become drinking water.

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i am also not understanding.. but here are some handy guidlines..

 

KHGHConversionChartAPIWaterTestKit_zpsd9

 

Thank you Helen.  So this means goldfish should be ok all the way from 100-400?  And mine was something like 250.  Then I guess my main problem then is just the huge jump from existing tank water at 8.2 down to 7.4 tap when I was doing the huge 80/90/100% WCs, which can be avoided now.

 

I have no idea how my GH can be just 1 with such a high KH, but if that part isn't as important I can stop worrying about it.

 

Your water softener will remove GH.....Not KH.

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