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Old 02-18-2020, 07:48 PM   #1
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Help raising GH and KH

Hi all
Im here because after googling how to raise my GH and KH in my aquarium I found this site.
Anyways, I have a five gallon aquarium with one male betta.
After doing a ton of different test and having to buy a new GH and KH kit because my orginal kit was already activated in the bottle
I found out my GH and KH are both 1 drop each. I'd like to keep invertebrates in my tanks as my betta is super dolice and enjoys companions but every time I've added shrimp or snails theyve died within a few days which I've recently found out is because my GH and KH are so low. I'm also seeing the effect of my water on my betta his poor fins are super curled.
I was told to use Shrimp salt or Seachems Equilibrium, acid buffer and Akline buffer. But those are all super expensive and I've dropped so much already on this tank trying to fix the water and treating my betta for fin rot and ich.
Are their any other options I cna use that wont cost so much?

I'm also setting a split 10 gallon for my guy and a new addition soon so I'd like to have the GH/KH issue fixed before I finish setting the new tank up.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 02-18-2020, 10:44 PM   #2
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Some people use Epsom salts and baking soda but I never have and I haven’t done the research to be able to tell you how or if it can be done stably.

Argonite sand will raise ph/gh/kh too.

But personally I think messing with the water chemistry like that may not be wise. Swings in parameters can be very dangerous and most fish are very adaptable as long as things are stable.

At my old house I had 1 drop gh/kh results. I threw out two kits before realizing it wasn’t the kits fault! For nearly a decade I kept a large variety of tropical fish including bettas, snails, and shrimp. You’ll need to add a ca source for the snails like cuttle bone for them to munch on which is a couple bucks at any pet shop. I forgot to do even that most of the time and I still have a nerite that is a few years old and lived most of it in that water without issues.

It’s very unlikely the shrimp and snails didn’t survive because of the low gh/kh; as I’ve had both in those conditions. Though it may be that they needed a longer acclimation time to get used to those parameters.

What you’ll need to look out for is whether your ph is stable or if the kh is so low you’re getting ph swings. At 1 drop kh my ph still was stable enough that I never had ill effects.

Many people indeed use products to raise gh/kh/ph but you just have to be very careful and I’m just letting you know it may not even be necessary.
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:10 PM   #3
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The first set of shrimp I got weren't drip acclimated but the second set was . I've talked to mutiple neocardia keepers and they all agree my GH and KH is the source of my issue. My parameters have been stable for almost 3 months now so the tank is fully cycled so that's not the second set of shrimps cause of death. The first set of shrimp were ghost so it could have been because they were poorly bred but the second set were cherries from petco. the ghost died in 4 days and the cherries died in less than 4 hours. The two snails I were nerites a black nerite from petsmart it died in two days, the second was a tiger nerite from petco it died In 4 days I got them on separate occasions I thought maybe the black nerite had died because my tank wasnt fully cycled yet but my paramarters have even the same since like a week before I added him. Since my parameters are stable and I dont have high levels of any metals it makes no sense that I would have death so quickly other than GH and KH. I've been told my GH needs to be atleast 6 drops and my KH should be atleast 4 for any invertebrates to survive. I'm mainly concerned about adjusting it because its affecting my betta negatively. If its affecting his fins now I can only imagine how its affecting him internally.
My Ph has been a steady 6.0 the entire time I've had the tank set up.
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:18 PM   #4
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all I can say is that Iíve had bettas shrimp and snails thrive and in the RCS case breed in 1 drop gh/kh for years. Itís possible my 1 drop result and yours was slightly different but my cherries bred in very soft water with cuttlebone as a ca source.

If youíd like to raise it anyway thatís perfectly fine, of course, there are many products on the market for that purpose and as long as youíre consistent your critters will probably thank you for it. Iím sure my inverts were silently cursing me for making them breed in that soft of water 🤣

Just one more note on your theory of why the cherries died. You said they came from petco? My local petco has my same water parameters. You should see if theyíre living in super soft water at the pet store before you conclude your soft water killed them. If theyíre living in soft water there then weíll need to think about other possibilities.
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:53 PM   #5
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When I go back next for some more plants I'll see if I cna get a little cup of water from there shrimp tank to test. I have noticed that my water tends to have a much lower ph than that from a petsmart or petco. I actually tested the ghost shrimps water and the ph was 7.4. I didnt have the gh/kh kit at them time so I wasnt able to test it. I did leave the cherries for about 2 hours drip acclimating I was afraid that an hour wouldnt be enough to adjust the parameter with mine. Unfortunately I didn't have the gh/KH kit yet to test the water from petco at the time or I would have I actually didnt buy the gh/KH kit until after they died to figure out what was going on.
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Old 02-19-2020, 12:05 AM   #6
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If the ph is different then either you’re on a different water system or they have something running to buffer it higher so that answers that question.

I still find it very hard to believe that the gh/kh is killing them within hours. Considering mine lived for years in those parameters. Molting problems after a few months; that I would not be surprised by. Not quick complete die off.

You say you have plants. Do you dose any fertilizer and have you tested for copper in your water. Have you ever used a copper based med in your tank (even before getting shrimp.)
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Old 02-19-2020, 12:40 AM   #7
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Yeah I'm not on the same Water system the petco I went to was over an hour away from me like 6 cities from me and the petsmart I went is three cities over like 30 mintues away. I live in a super rural area so the only thing I have close by is a walmart and that a 20 minute drive from me lol
I've actually tested my water and looked at my cities water quality test copper was 0 and other metals like iron were also 0 on the cities test.

The only thing I'm using for fertilizer is seachems root tabs an i occasionally does Seachems flourish advance but as far as I'm aware neither contain Copper.
I've never used any meds in my tank at all.
I've been using warm temp and Methylene blue dips to treat my bettas fin rot.
The Methylene blue dip I do in a separate container and let him chill in a different container with clean tank water before I reintroduce him in to the tank. I'm super paranoid about using meds in the tank and I know with invertebrates they cant be exposed to a bunch of different ones because of copper.
The only thing I've really changed in the tank was adding more live plants and a driftwood piece. Then about 2 weeks ago I started using IAL in my tank.
I orginally had silk plants from Walmart in the tank with the metal moveable piece in the center pulled out but they were in my tank for like 3 weeks and then I threw the out because someone mentioned they may not be safe and I decided to do live plants.
They aren't grown right now I unfortunately experienced melt after less than a week of being Introduced the only plants I have that didnt melt are the ones I had to begin with a anubias, java moss and marimos.
The plants that melted were three cryptocoryne wendtii, a melon sword, java fern, rwo anubis petite and like 6 microsword clumps.
I also had a vallsneria spirals(sp?) And a alternanthera reineckii but they didnt have roots so I doubt theyll call back.
I also changed my light to a 6500k light from a 50/50 led.
I have a 10 gallon sponge filter and a 50 watt heater that's submersible and adjustable.
Two themermoters a digital and then a glass one to make sure the temp is reading right at all times.
I'm just so lost as to what is causing the issues in my tank


I want to figure it out before I set up my 10 gallon because I really want to keep neocardia I love shrimp and invertebrates in general and I cant keep above water invertebrates yet lol
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Old 02-19-2020, 01:53 AM   #8
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You can use Salty Shrimp mineral / or other remineralizer to "make" your water what it needs to be. Then you always use the water you make in doing pwc. Refill evaporation with RO Reverse Osmosis water (or learn how much of your normal water you need with the fact it is so low in mineral content.

***Something you might try is taking a gallon of your tap water and testing out if you can economically get the water at a level you are happy with.

To do this you will need a container of this
I just bought the bigger size listed here because of the size value. You can do a smaller container

Difference of around $6. but 3 or x more product. As a side note, you can go to the big box pet supply stores and they will price match with the online prices, Chewy (part of Petsmart), Liveaquaria (part of Petco), Petco, and Petsmart but you should call and speak with a supervisor to be sure. (or read it online if you can find it).

I was told at Petco today by a cashier they also match Walmart and some others, but was previously told they do not match that many. lol And Petsmart was less options fyi.

It is often worth the inconvenience because tonight saved ~50% on one item and 13% on another. Just for showing them my phone the identical item price.

https://www.amazon.com/Kent-Marine-0...2094317&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002AREOI/ref=dp_cerb_1

You will have benefit in using calcium to maintain buffering capability in the water anyway with the fact you have very low kH. My tap is basically 0 kH.

You have such a long way to go, If you have Prime with amazon you would get it fast and no shipping. Saving money and time not having to go so far to get your things.

Test info will be on the next post this one is sooooo long!
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Old 02-19-2020, 03:01 AM   #9
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Okay...

This is about $10 and much more work. But easy.

Get a bag of plain Epsom Salts plain no oils fragrances, etc.
Epsom Salts is magnesium sulfate not table salt, sodium chloride. Also a key ingredient in keeping pH stable and raising GH. And plants like it.

And ALWAYS treat any water you plan to use for fish, shrimp or snails before use whether I mention or not, for Chlorine/Chloramines/heavy metals and

ALWAYS use at the tank temp matched water for critter safety if adding to the tank!!!

fyi
https://kentmarine.com/products/kent-superbufferdkh.htm

Let's do a 5G bucket if you have that / easier to figure the amounts. I am not the best math expert

*Test tap water KH/GH for a baseline number

*then use 1/4 tsp (1/4 dose) of the Kent's Marine powder - mix well
(1 tsp for 20G)

*wait an hour or 2 test KH

see where you are in the test amount

Keep repeating,

Or if it seems far off target KH -

Dump the bucket rinse and do it again double or use the full 1 tsp which would be (times 4 in 20 G of aquarium water).

It's late I hope this makes sense.

You want to figure out how much Kent's to add to be at the KH you would like to have.

When you get that figured out write it down! Save the KH water to add the Epsom Salts.

Now Epsom Salts / ES.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Use your KH water -

In a 1 gallon container mix a cup or 2 of hot water (you can microwave the cup or 2 of water to make hot) with a teaspoon of ES till dissolved, a few grains left is fine - fill to the gallon level

Test GH

then if far off from your goal, dump that rinse, and try 1 tablespoon and test mixing with the hot water to dissolve. Fill to the gallon level.

See where you are at with GH test.

Adjust to try again and repeat, rinse and new amount of ES and repeat if needed to get to an ideal amount.

Test KH and GH after about an hour and see if it is still correct.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Then you can calculate the amount of Epsom Salt per gallon and times 5 for the 5G bucket and mix and add Kent's in the amount you figured initially.

Mix and treat with water conditioned to make the water safe, and temperature.
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Old 02-19-2020, 12:03 PM   #10
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There we go; figured someone who has done it would show up eventually!

Itís a lot more work but as long as you transition slowly and are careful to keep things consistent that would at least rule out gh/kh as the problem if things still arenít right.

I will say to be wary of the fertilizers, even tabs. I havenít used them in my shrimp tanks since I found that either low doses of flourish or tabs was causing problems in an old shrimp tank years ago which resolved when I stopped them both. Shrimp really donít like trace metals. I donít think that would cause them all to die like you saw but itís something to be aware of .

Anubius and java fern are so hardy Iím very surprised they melted on you.
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Old 02-19-2020, 03:59 PM   #11
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A big thing to keep in mind is that aquatic invertebrates are osmoconformers, meaning they can’t regulate what is going into their bodies like vertebrates can. So your water parameters may very well be safe, it’s just that the exposure to a new water chemistry might be too abrupt for them to adapt to. That’s why a lot of wild caught freshwater tropical fish get a brief “salt bath” where they’re put into a salt water solution that quickly kills any invert parasites on them that can’t regulate the environmental change, but the fish survive just fine because their bodies can filter it out for short periods of time. Try a longer acclimation period for the shrimp, drip acclimation for sure, their sensitive little insides just need some extra time to adjust
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:44 AM   #12
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I drip acclimated for 2 hours how much longer do I need to go?
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:46 AM   #13
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So I tested my gH/KH yesterday on a whim and my KH is now 6 drops while my GH is 3.
I've been adding seachems neutral regulator everyday and my ph is now 6.6
So I'm confused because as far as I'm aware the neutral regulator is only supposed to adjust PH.
The Kent's says it's for Marnie only so I'm wary of using it since my tank is fresh water.
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:48 AM   #14
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Yeah the java fern held on for a while but I finally had to clip the leaves and my large anbius had some melt but it's coming back already.
I'm pretty sure they melted because of the giant ammonia spike I had when all the other plants melted.
I was told in the shrimp group I'm in Rootabs and flourish advance were fine to use and would effect invertebrates.
My 10 gallon I'm setting up using the dirted tank method instead of using just sand.
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Old 02-20-2020, 02:07 PM   #15
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When I get new inverts I set them up on a super slow drip and leave them practically all day. There are times when this is not advisable (long shipping/ammonia in the source water; or not necessary (parameters similar to your own) but it usually doesn’t do any harm and if parameters are very different may help.

Neutral regulator is a phosphate based system and can cause algae issues if you’re trying to balance macro nutrients in a planted aquarium. Just fyi.

Kh and ph are connected in a way that I don’t have time to fully explain because the baby is waking from his nap :p but you should really research what all these numbers mean if you’re going to change them on a regular basis.

So you’re saying those new numbers are in your tank or have your tap results shifted as well?
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:21 PM   #16
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It is probably already done but for the future you can have the store test the water the shrimp are in. Then go home and test your tank water.

See how similar or not, the water is. This will help you to understand how close the water parameters are, to assist in determining how long to drip acclimate.

As mentioned above, this acclimation may be different if shipped to you and a concern about ammonia.

Test the tap water too, every few days and if it is very much different then the day before or week before, call the water company and ask them why this happens.

It should not fluctuate a great deal unless they change the source of the water you get.

My water source comes from 2 very different locations - ice melt from snow and in a muddy bottom lake pretty soft, and the other after their water allotment is used, a reservoir with a stone basin, much harder water. And it varies slightly because that reservoir gets snow melt too and also dries in drought times making the concentration of harder water.

Always a crap shoot. Plus, when the water company changes supply lines (or repair a line or just do periodic maintenance, or who knows!), they flush the lines with super strong toxic killing stuff which residual has killed some of my tank inhabitants.

For years I always had suspicious lots of Mystery snails die off in the winter, which happens to be a time frame they change supply source! I pay much more attention to strong smelling water and won't do water changes. Just additional FYI, maybe help someone else, as I no clue about that stuff before checking in and talking with the specialist from the water facility.
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:34 PM   #17
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This is definitely true. I had a tank completely wiped out last spring from an apparently normal water change; used a standard amount of prime etc but in an hour all the inhabitants were dead (except one nerite snail who cleverly rode it out above the water line) of classic chlorine toxicity symptoms.

Turns out my water company does a flush in the spring and I missed the memo.

Personally I think this is one of the reasons to keep test strips around. Yes, liquid tests are more accurate but it’d be a pain in the butt to test everything before every water change. Easy enough to do a quick test strip check of your tap before a change just to see if there’s any red flags about big changes in your tap source.

In my case a quick ammonia test of dechlorinated tap would likely have shown me that the amount of chloramines had gone way up from what is normal for my tap. I also never do a water change when I won’t have a little time after to watch the tank. That time I had a newborn and was squeezing a water change into a nap and couldn’t check in on it again for a while... lesson learned!
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:41 PM   #18
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Water issues not in your normal operating situation are killer. I lost ~150 Pure Red Line shrimp of mostly SS-SSS quality and my heart was broken.

Shrimp and inverts are some of the first to indicate problems in water.

How'd it go Demonica?
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:51 PM   #19
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Ugh , (sorry for the diversion op but that required a grimace of solidarity!)

ďFortunatelyĒ the tank was very lightly stocked. It was still a major bummer to lose some fish that Iíd had for many years (small schools of neons and glo lights) but the financial loss was minimal.

Anyway back to the OPs issue the question is are you seeing this change because your tap has changed or something youíre adding (like the neutral regulator etc) has changed it.
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:44 AM   #20
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In the tank my tap hasnt shifted as far as I know. I actually havent tested my tap with the new kit yet. I had water sitting out to test and my roommate decided to dump it without asking so I forgot to do another cup.
Libertybelle I'm pretty sure it's the neutral regulator that's changed it since it adjust PH which is controlled by KH.
I'm actually going to stop using it because as you mentioned I'm having a huge algae problem now.
Autumn sky I've tested my tap on and off since I first started this tank and after letting it sit for 24 hours my tap has been consistent since I live in a super rural area my water consistently comes from the same source a river that flows into like 6 surrounding counties that all get their water from the river .
I do notice every so often the water smells like straight chlorine but they usually issue a water quality alert before they treat the water and I avoid water changes until it's over.
I thought about just purchasing bottled water but I read online that your not guaranteed the same parameters every bottle and I couldnt figure out if I should get distilled water or RO water so I scrapped that idea for now.
I don't trust the stores test because they use strips and in my experience test strips are inaccurate or they dont test for ammonia on the ones they have to test water. When I got my betta the store told me his water was fine and then when I got him home i tested it and his water parameters were so high
Ph was 7.0
His ammonia was at 8 ppm
Nitires were so dark im pretty sure it was above 5 ppm
And nitrate was 80 ppm
It's a wonder he was surviving in those conditions. He did have tail rot and has some minor issues now from the conditions but nothing too serious thankfully.
Their test strips showed his water as fine across the board according to them but they couldnt tell me an ammonia reading because their strips didnt test for it.
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