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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have several tanks that I have used Eco-Complete with (couple of 2g and a 5.5g). All have a pH of 8, and GH/KH in the 4-6dH range. My tanks that do not use Eco-Complete tend toward the city's water supply pH of 7 and GH/KH of <1dH (I usually add some Seachem Equilibrium to them).

Why does the pH go to 8? The fish seem ok. Is there something about the Eco-Complete that messes up my Tetra pH test? The plants seem pretty good overall and none of the fish seem stressed. (The only additional thing I have experienced in one 2g and the 5.5g is the emergence of brown algae that the Oto seems to ignore, but the Nerite snail relishes.)

I was hoping to use the Eco-Complete in some tanks that I could use for some fish that require lower pH's (<7) but I do not want to get very complicated with the chemistry.

I do not use CO2 supplementation, other than Flourish Excel if that counts. I like to keep my aquaria technically simple. Thanks!

-jason

P.S. NO3 levels are just fine in all.
 

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Probably just raising the KH a little. Eco-complete is not an inert substrate so some effects on the water are expected. You probably should notice this effect taper off with time but I think it's quite normal.

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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In January of this year I replaced the gravel substrate in my 75g with Eco Complete/Tahitian Moon Sand mixture(80lbs Eco/60lbs sand). Ten days after changing my substrate my KH had risen 3 degrees to 10 and my GH 2 degrees to 6. Whether this is due to the eco or the sand I'm not sure.

Both my KH and GH were at normal levels by the end of March. However, I had a spike in early April for about two weeks. I use well water so I contribute this to either spring thaws from the mountains getting into the aquifer or the fact that a neighbor dug a new well about this time. Who knows for sure which was the cause.

I never noticed a change in my pH as I was injecting CO2. At the time I was still trying to get the CO2 dialed in since the tank was recently set up. It was a bit difficult with the slowly rising/falling KH. If you are using(or plan on using) CO2, I would get a KH test and keep an eye on your CO2 levels while the Eco does its thing.

It seems that my tank stabilized in about 8-10 weeks not including the short spike I had. I have also yet to miss a 50% weekly water change. If you keep up on the water changes I would guess that your tank will stablize in a similar time frame.

I also set-up a low light, 30g Apisto tank three weeks ago with a similar substrate (20lbs Eco 40lbs Sand). Two weeks ago the KH had risen 3 degrees and the GH 2 degrees just like the 75g did. Last week, I did a 30% water change with 10 gal of concentrated peat water (Ph 6.0 maybe lower, KH 3, GH 1). This lowered my pH to 7, my KH to 5 and my GH to 2.5. However, by the next day the Ph was at 7.6, the KH at 8 and the GH at 4.5. This is where they are currently. There is something in either the Eco or the sand buffering the water.

Neither tank has rocks or driftwood in it. The 30g does have a clay pot for the Apisto to use as a breeding cave.

Hope this helps.
 

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Well, that's a pretty good timing. I was about to post a question about EcoComplete and KH/pH.

The tank on this picture has a foam background and a mix of inert filter gravel and EcoComplete - roughly 50% each. This is a DAS tank and the water is circulated down through the gravel, behind the fancy foam background, and discharged close to the surface.

The setup was not my idea, but I ended up planting the tank. The pH can't go down below 7.1 and the KH slowly creeps from the 4 after a water change to 8 in about 10 days. Water changes are done with 100% RO water.

CO2 - we pump about 10 bubbles per second in that 240 gals. tank. The plants are bubbling heavily but it's very frustrating to watch the stable pH - 7.1 to 7.2 and the creeping KH.

After reading the earlier posts I think that it would be logical to conclude that the CO2-rich water flowing through the gravel disolves the EcoComplete. Why isn't EcoComplete inert?

Also - along with the growing KH I expected to see a growing GH, but that is not so. It was my understanding that it's the Ca in the substrate that would raise the KH as a result of a reaction with the CO2. Doesn't that mean that GH would grow too? I'm intersted to hear a good explanation.

--Nikolay

(P.S. The plant layout that you see on the picture was Tzunami's idea... :D )
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Huh, so I'm not the only one who has experienced something? I have not had any tanks set up with Eco-Complete for a long time yet (probably at most 2 months I think in one). As I said I keep my tanks low tech, no CO2, just heater and filter on the aquariums and nothing on the nano tanks/jars (<=2g).

I'll have to do a full test of pH, GH/KH and such this weekend to compare against the last one several weeks ago and see if anything has changed.
 

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I just sent an e-mail to CaribSea asking them to shed some light on the subject. I hope they will.

I wonder if the packaging contains some pH buffers. If that's so they should stop working after several water changes. The KH is a different thing though.

--Nikolay
 

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I've had similar issues myself. When first set up tank was filled with R/O water set with Seachem products to, pH - 7, kH - 4, GH - 6. Added un-rinsed Eco-Complete with liquid and Moon Sand at 4:1 and let it run for a day. The pH climbed to 8. Before my initial planting a 25% water change was done straight R/O water with a pH of 5.3. Right after refilling the pH dropped at low as 6, seemed to level out around 7.3 but in the next 2 days climbed back to 8. Concurrently I was trying to dial in the CO2.

For a week after that I did daily water changes of about 15%, using, pH - 7, kH - 4, GH - 6 makeup water. CO2 running 24/7. Right after I'd finish the ph would drop down to around 7.6, it would slowly climb and by the next morning be at 8 again. I noticed after a week the kH and GH had also crept up 2 points.

Tired of daily water changes and since I was adding more plants or fish almost a daily basis I left it alone for a week. At lights out the pH would be at 8 and overnight drop to 7.8. In a fit of frustration, I did a 50% water change with straight R/O again. Right after the pH plummeted to a low of 5.9, the fish freaked, the plants were pearling so much you think an effervescent tablet was dropped in. Within 6 hours back up to 8, fish calm plants not pearling. Kh and GH unmoved from 6 and 8.

Left it alone for another week, just feeding fish. Same traumatic water change and almost same results. pH was now stabilized at 7.8.

Week later, same 50% change, ph goes back up to 7.8 in few hours but kH and GH are down to 4 and 5 now. Overnight ph drops to 7.6 and only climbs to 7.7 by lights out the next day. Had to refill the CO2, was only gone an hour for a new bottle but pH went back to 8. Within hours of being hooked back up pH was back to 7.7. Dropped 0.2 over night and only went back 0.1 during the day. 5 days later and current reading is 7.2, kH 4, GH 5.

Each day there has been little bit more pearling, in amount and duration, then the previous. I have noticed some individual grains of the substrate are now white.

And here I thought some rocks I had put in had caused the issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My Tetra pH test kit does not give me much granularity on the test results, so I can only guess at 0.5pt values (7, 7.5, 8, ...). Not sure if it is dropping or not over time. Just closer to the '8' color than 7. Fish and plants seem fine, no one is freaked, stressed or dying, even if they are supposed not like or live in anything above 7 (it's not like fish or plants read their documentation anyway). I am starting to get some brown algae in the Eco-Complete tanks now, doesn't seem diatomic and the Oto seems to ignore it but the Nerite snail chomps along happily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ah ha! I though I just mixed in some white-ish gravel by accident in my one tank. I had transferred the E-C substrate from one nano-tank to another at one point then noticed "white E-C" but figured I just had something mixed in. Huh. Wonder if that is "bad" (being a very relative term) and the black is only a coating.
 

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I've found some of the same white stuff myself! Makes me wonder if it's all Eco Complete in the bag or if it's mixed with "painted" regular gravel.

I thought maybe the white pieces were in the sand but the size and appearance lead me to believe it was the Eco. Besides, the sand was washed many times and white pieces like that stick out like a sore thumb in black sand.
 

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This is what I got as a response to my e-mail to CaribSea:

"Dear Nikolay,

Thank you for taking the time to bring this to my attention and for the kind words regarding our Eco Complete for plants. I do ocassionally have a customer report a rise in KH or pH or both. The phenomenae is temporary and appears to subside sooner with the use of CO2. The black material itself is perfectly neutral. This points to two possible causes. First, we process the mineral aragonite on site and it is possible that on windy days a small amount of dust may settle, undetected, on the material prior to packaging and the acidic black water solution would consume/convert it to a dissolved buffer which would be released into the aquarium causing a short term rise in pH/KH. If some solid phase dust particles made it to the system the use of CO2 would create carbonic acid which would quickly consume/convert aragonite into buffer creating a short lived rise in pH/KH.

The other scenerio could be a possible surface coating of limonite (a hydrated iron carbonate) which is sometimes found as a surface coating on volcanics. This too would show the same chemical effects and it too would be temporary. It is difficult to pin down because neutral water is so easily shifted in the pH range of seven by miniscule amounts of carbonate and so is difficult to detect. I have instituted procedures that should eliminate the dust possibility, and if that was the source of the pH shifting off neutral the problem is fixed. I have not heard of this happening lately so maybe its done. Thank you again and please keep me posted.

Sincerely,
Richard Greenfield Geologist, V.P. CaribSea Inc."

--Nikolay
 

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I have a 30 gallon tank that has had Eco-Complete in it for six months, and has had the equivalent of at least 6 complete water changes and guess what, it still buffers the gh and kh to 5, and that is with tapwater that comes out at a gh and kh of < 1, so I don't buy the inert material statement.

I like this feature, however, because 5 is a nice number for a planted tank's gh and kh. I like not having to add any gh or kh builders, but I think there is something in the black material itself that is buffering the water.

Dave
 

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I have two tanks running with eco complete / Onyx sand (4:1) ratio. Both maintain a KH between 3 and 5. I have a 7gallon nano plant tank at work that has 100% eco substrate and the KH and GH stay the same as our tap water less than 1 on both counts. Either way, I'm happy with the stuff. My swords seem to do amazingly with this substrate mix.
 
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