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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
What is the new hardness?


Pure baking soda should not affect GH. If you're worried about using off-the-shelf baking soda, you could pick up something like Seachem alkaline buffer to use instead, which will list the exact dosing to reach the desired KH. But wonder shells will have a negligible effect on KH, so I wouldn't expect much change there with continued use.
The GH was up to 180 in my old tank today. Everything is still great in my new 5 gallon planted tank, though!

Thanks! When I added the baking soda the pH was 8+, and I couldn't get it down. KH and GH were also off the charts.
 

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Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. It has no calcium or magnesium. Thus, it will not change the GH.

Are you sure that you didn't use baking powder? It would explain your results. Baking powder contains calcium and sodium bicarbonate. Thus, it will raise KH, pH and GH. (Caution: It also contains corn starch, aluminum sulfate and phosphates, which could cause all kinds of problems when added to an aquarium.

The dosage to raise KH one degree is 1 gram of Baking Soda per 10 gal. A teaspoon of salt weighs about 6 grams. In my book I recommend that people add 1 teaspoon to 10 gal, but you could add less. Recommended alkalinity for aquatic plants is 2-8 dKH.

If still not convinced, check package ingredients. My generic Baking Soda lists sodium bicarbonate as the only ingredient. That's what you want to use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Attention Please! Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. It has no calcium or magnesium. Thus, it will not change the GH.

Are you sure that you didn't use baking powder? It would explain your results. Baking powder contains calcium and sodium bicarbonate. Thus, it will raise KH, pH and GH. (Caution: It also contains corn starch, aluminum sulfate and phosphates, which could cause all kinds of problems when added to an aquarium.

I believe the dosage to raise KH one degree is 1 level tsp of Baking Soda per 10 gal.

If still not convinced, check package ingredients. My generic Baking Soda lists sodium bicarbonate as the only ingredient. That's what you want to use.
Thanks! I checked, and it is sodium bicarbonate. It has been sitting around sealed in a bio bag for a while, maybe that has something to do with what I experienced. I used about 1/4 tsp for my 2.6 tank. I was up all night changing the water and worrying so I'm worried about trying it again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
I'll be moving my betta to the new tank today. The snails have acclimated to the new tank over the past two days, and the water still looks good from an ammonia and nitrite perspective. However, the water parameters in the new tank after adding the snails are now:

Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0
pH: 6.5
KH: 0
GH: 40
 

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Okay, good you checked and thanks for providing the evidence. I tested my baking soda (ordinary generic store brand) by adding it to the test tube with which I check GH. I added a little baking soda (10 mg?) to 5 ml of tapwater which would make it very concentrated, much more than what you added to your tank. No GH increase. Then, I repeated test with aquarium water. Still, no change.

I think your Bob's Red Mill baking soda contains calcium. Since calcium is not toxic and most cooks use both baking soda and baking powder, I guess it's no big deal to bakers (or the company) if their baking soda is not pure sodium bicarbonate? I would get another brand (the cheapest generic) and test its GH in a small tube before you add it to the tank. It doesn't go bad, so you'll have it forever.

Also, I went back to check on the amount necessary to increase KH by one degree. It is 1 gram per 10 gal. A tsp of salt weighs about 6 grams, so that means you will need to add only a small amount to a 2.6 gal tank. Christel Kassellman, the guru of aquatic plants, writes that the optimal range for plants is 2-8 dKH, so you have a lot of leeway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Okay, good you checked and thanks for providing the evidence. I tested my baking soda (ordinary generic store brand) by adding it to the test tube with which I check GH. I added a little baking soda (10 mg?) to 5 ml of tapwater which would make it very concentrated, much more than what you added to your tank. No GH increase. Then, I repeated test with aquarium water. Still, no change.

I think your Bob's Red Mill baking soda contains calcium. Since calcium is not toxic and most cooks use both baking soda and baking powder, I guess it's no big deal to bakers (or the company) if their baking soda is not pure sodium bicarbonate? I would get another brand (the cheapest generic) and test its GH in a small tube before you add it to the tank. It doesn't go bad, so you'll have it forever.

Also, I went back to check on the amount necessary to increase KH by one degree. It is 1 gram per 10 gal. A tsp of salt weighs about 6 grams, so that means you will need to add only a small amount to a 2.6 gal tank. Christel Kassellman, the guru of aquatic plants, writes that the optimal range for plants is 2-8 dKH, so you have a lot of leeway.
Yes, that's a food brand, so it's safe to say that most people buy it for baking. I actually bought it for cleaning. I'll buy a generic brand!

Do you recommend continuing to use the wonder shells, and then just adding baking soda as needed for KH going forward? So far I'm having good luck with the 5 gallon tank and the plants that I have. Hopefully the plants will grow a lot more over time!
 

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You're obviously having good luck with your 5 gal. I would stick with the Wonder Shells. You may not even need to add baking soda. The Wonder Shells contain calcium carbonate, so when they dissolve, they will release bicarbonates. That should raise your KH, but the only way to know for sure is to measure KH.

I just ordered some Wonder Shells myself. Look forward to trying them out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
You're obviously having good luck with your 5 gal. I would stick with the Wonder Shells. You may not even need to add baking soda. The Wonder Shells contain calcium carbonate, so when they dissolve, they will release bicarbonates. That should raise your KH, but the only way to know for sure is to measure KH.

I just ordered some Wonder Shells myself. Look forward to trying them out!
Oh great! Thanks, I'll stay the course on the wonder shells and see how it goes. Thanks for recommending the wonder shells! :) Looking forward to hearing more about how everyone likes them.
 

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Hey all! I haven’t checked the forum in a long while (life…), but playing catch up.

Wonder shell trial 1; for me was only 1 small shell for a 12.5G. That’s why I may not have seen such an increase or change in parameters. I wanted to start slow.

I also haven’t started my second test. I need to. I’m dealing with headaches regarding the tank as is (nothing major, just things I notice and playing process of elimination). I’ll show my recordings soon and continue the process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Hey all! I haven’t checked the forum in a long while (life…), but playing catch up.

Wonder shell trial 1; for me was only 1 small shell for a 12.5G. That’s why I may not have seen such an increase or change in parameters. I wanted to start slow.

I also haven’t started my second test. I need to. I’m dealing with headaches regarding the tank as is (nothing major, just things I notice and playing process of elimination). I’ll show my recordings soon and continue the process.
I was going to give an update on my tank today as well!

I overdid the wonder shell. And I also realized that when I replaced the wonder shell that had dissolved in my tank, I didn't replace any of the water. So now my GH is over 180, but my pH is up to 7 again. So in my experience when you add a lot of wonder shell it will significantly increase your GH and also increase your pH some. This is the second time I've seen that happen. Small amounts of wonder shell don't seem to impact my pH. And the wonder shell doesn't seem to have an impact on my KH - it's still at 0. :(

Also, I guess I won't need as many wonder shells as I thought because I won't be using them continuously unless I start doing more water changes.

But the tank is doing great! All the plants are thriving (except for the floaters, they all keep dying on me!), and my water always tests 0 for ammonia and nitrites even without water changes.
 

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Wonder Shells will generally not affect KH or pH. I remember reading that on the website. Which doesn’t make sense now that I think about it. They claim to be made of Calcium Carbonate/CaCO3+ cations. My organic chemistry knowledge is so old in my memory that I can’t really comment on it any further. Maybe someone can help explain if it is really calcium carbonate or if the ions make a difference.

“A few other elements found in minor & trace amounts include: Magnesium, Chloride, Sodium, Sulfate, Potassium, Bicarbonate, Bromide, Borate, Strontium, Fluoride (there is NO sodium thiosulfate despite poor search result claims).”
- Taken from Wonder Shell Aquarium Mineral Blocks - AAP | Disease Preventative

It seems like it should affect KH?

Anyway, my brain is still a little fried so I’m having some trouble connecting the dots. But the above is some info from the product manufacturer. They talk a lot about ion exchange…so now I find myself confused, what are the wonder shells doing in regard to our NPT’s?
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Wonder Shells will generally not affect KH or pH. I remember reading that on the website. Which doesn’t make sense now that I think about it. They claim to be made of Calcium Carbonate/CaCO3+ cations. My organic chemistry knowledge is so old in my memory that I can’t really comment on it any further. Maybe someone can help explain if it is really calcium carbonate or if the ions make a difference.

“A few other elements found in minor & trace amounts include: Magnesium, Chloride, Sodium, Sulfate, Potassium, Bicarbonate, Bromide, Borate, Strontium, Fluoride (there is NO sodium thiosulfate despite poor search result claims).”
- Taken from Wonder Shell Aquarium Mineral Blocks - AAP | Disease Preventative

It seems like it should affect KH?

Anyway, my brain is still a little fried so I’m having some trouble connecting the dots. But the above is some info from the product manufacturer. They talk a lot about ion exchange…so now I find myself confused, what are the wonder shells doing in regard to our NPT’s?
You know so much about water! All I know is my personal experience with my 5 gallon tank. Perhaps there are other variables that I'm not aware of going on. I did add a small amount of baking soda to the tank at one point, so maybe that's still affecting what's happening with the water?
 

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Wonder Shells will generally not affect KH or pH. I remember reading that on the website. Which doesn’t make sense now that I think about it. They claim to be made of Calcium Carbonate/CaCO3+ cations. My organic chemistry knowledge is so old in my memory that I can’t really comment on it any further. Maybe someone can help explain if it is really calcium carbonate or if the ions make a difference.

“A few other elements found in minor & trace amounts include: Magnesium, Chloride, Sodium, Sulfate, Potassium, Bicarbonate, Bromide, Borate, Strontium, Fluoride (there is NO sodium thiosulfate despite poor search result claims).”
- Taken from Wonder Shell Aquarium Mineral Blocks - AAP | Disease Preventative

It seems like it should affect KH?

Anyway, my brain is still a little fried so I’m having some trouble connecting the dots. But the above is some info from the product manufacturer. They talk a lot about ion exchange…so now I find myself confused, what are the wonder shells doing in regard to our NPT’s?
Thanks for ingredient list and additional information. I was wondering if Wonder Shells contained potassium, and I'm delighted to see that it does.

I think that Wonder Shells contain an acidic ingredient. Otherwise, the CaCO3 would take forever--like sea shells or oyster grit--to dissolve. Perhaps Wonder Shells contain NaHSO4 (sodium bisulfate). The NaHSO4, which is acidic, would hasten the dissolving of CaCO3. The acid generated could also react with bicarbonate in the water to form CO2. As the bicarbonate is removed, the KH and the pH would begin to drop. The manufacturers have somehow mixed these chemicals together so that there's a slow gentle release.

Wonder Shells could be a bonanza for planted tanks. Increase major water hardness nutrients (Ca, Mg, and K) AND provide a little CO2 for plants. I added a small Wonder Shell to my 5 gal tank yesterday.
 
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