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Old 05-10-2010, 05:20 PM   #1
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Trying to make sense of water chemistry

Hello all,
I have the API test kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and high scale pH. These basics I have mastered, but I feel that to really achieve the aquarium I want I must deepen my understanding... Unfortunately at this stage I am limited to research only, so I can't go out and buy a test kit for the more specific parameters.

Firstly, I'm having trouble reading my water quality report. One reason is that my locale has two sources of water, one which provides 13% of water and one which provides 87%. Of course what I get in the tap is a mixture of around that ratio...

The second reason is that I read online about gH, kH and phosphate levels, but the only figure I can find for that is phosphate, at 1ppm. Since I want to go planted, that means I'll have to dose ferts, use fert tabs, or a mineral-rich substrate if I want to avoid algal blooms, right?

Is there any way to determine my gH and kH without a test kit?

Am I concerned about the correct things? Is there something else I should worry about?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-10-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
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might find a store that will test for GH KH. those tests i think are only $5 for the two from api. while i dont know your exact water all of so cali is a higher ph 7.8+ and semi hard water. just because you have some phosphate in your water doesnt mean you will have to add ferts or root tabs.
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Old 05-10-2010, 05:50 PM   #3
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Oops, I moved since then to Northern California, I just updated my location.

The source I was reading (Freshwater Aquarium Water Chemistry) seemed to indicate that phosphate was what the plants needed? I thought I needed more phosphates. I do know that plants also consume nitrates and ammonia though.

Wow I didn't know they were so cheap, when I get a job I'll have to pick them up. I was expecting another price like the whole API kit. There's a store close by I might ask them in the meantime.
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Old 05-10-2010, 05:56 PM   #4
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thats one part of what they need. PNK +trace. (Nitrate Phosphate Potassium)

Fe
6.53%
Mn
1.87%
Mg
1.40%
Zn
0.37%
Cu
0.09%
Mo
0.05%
B
1.18%
Co
0.00%
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:06 PM   #5
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Okay, see, I am now totally confused. Haha. Are those figures what your water is, or what I want my water to be? Or what my water is?

So if I want a FW planted aquarium, and I want to be able to test to make sure my fish and plants are happy, what else would I need to test for, aside from the basics, gH, and kH?

Edit: BTW thanks for the help! I am already learning a lot
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:28 PM   #6
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those are the trace elements though i just copied the csm+b. flourish has different ones. again just becasue you have planted tanks doesnt mean you have to have ferts. if you do add ferts you want PNK and trace elements. its all needed for a planted aquarium.

there is really not a lot you can test for. gh and kh is more important for fish or if you are going to add co2. most plants will do fine in all water some plants do better in harder water like vals and others which tend to be high light plants do need soft water.
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:21 AM   #7
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I see. This is all very interesting and valuable information. Thank you!

The reason I ask is that I had mad algae issues and my plants were only doing so-so in my former tank.

I feel much more enlightened
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Old 05-11-2010, 04:07 AM   #8
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ferts are not always the answer to all the problems. its all about finding a balance.
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Old 05-11-2010, 03:53 PM   #9
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Well to expand a little bit on the situation...

I have a T5 39w 6700K bulb over a 16" high tank, had low light and medium light plants, in an inert substrate. I didn't have root tabs or ferts, and my tank was for some reason a death machine. Either I had one freak killer tetra or something else wrong, cuz the population dwindled to just the one tetra.

But yeah, 39w T5 for around 10hrs/day + no nutrient source except 1 tetra and whatever got in through WCs. I believe in that situation I should have either dialed back the light (but I wanted to see my tank!) or added some sort of nutrient source for the plants, in order to re-balance the tank and avoid algae.

Is that pretty accurate?
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:02 PM   #10
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what size of tank was that?

in most cases thats pretty accurate. you can look into moonlights to be able to see the tank but not add to the algae problem.
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:46 PM   #11
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It was a 30G tank, 36" long 12" wide 16" tall.

My ideal solution would have been to add ferts and fish so that my expensive plant light would work But too much got in the way (money, freak killer tetra). That's why we have fresh starts right?
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:10 PM   #12
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a tank like that would be low light maybe some of the medium plants would work. ferts i dont think would be a must in there. i have many tanks that are just light plants fish and water changes.
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