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Flourish Trace to reconstitute

4293 Views 21 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  mats808
Hi All,
I use 100% RO/DI water and recostitute with Kent RO right and/or Seachem Equillibrium. I was thinking of using Kent liquid calcium and Magnesium Sulfate to reach my target GH istead of these products. My question is does anyone see a problem with using flourish trace to add the other trace minerals?

I know this is a plant forum but to be honest my concern in this case, is will flourish trace provide all of the trace minerals that my fish need since I am using 100% RO/DI water with the Calcium Chloride and Magnesium Sulfate. I raise some wild Bettas and other fish that enjoy very soft water. My problem with Kent RO is that I suspect it adds a little too much sodium which my fish don't really like and Equillibrium adds way too much Potassium that my fish don't need at that concentration. So I want to add Calcium and Magnesium without having to add Sodium or Postassium and add just enough trace minerals for my fish while still keeping TDS low.

This is what I was thinking. Adding Calcium Chloride and Magnesium Sulfate at a ratio of about 3.5 to 1 to get a GH between 2 and 3 depending on the fish. then adding flourish trace and maybe some iron at the recommended doses.

Do you guys think this will be better, same, or worse then using the RO right or Equillibrium and why? Also any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Fish require very few trace elements and besides, the majority of their dietary needs are met perfectly well by any of the common flake foods.

If you're trying to address the needs of the fish, the GH isn't all that important. If you do want to supply Ca & Mg, why not use CaSO4 and MgSO4? These compounds dissolve pretty quickly and sulfate is pretty innocuous when it comes to both fish and plants. I'd add a bit of CaCl2, just for the calcum, and maybe a bit of K2SO4 for the K. Flourish trace doesn't add anything that regular Flourish doesn't. It's pretty much a product without a purpose as far as I can tell.

Honestly, if you're not trying to do something special, why not add 10% or 20% tapwater to your RO? That would be 100 times easier than messing with all the chemicals.

Don't forget KH. When it comes to fish, this is far more important than GH.
Hi Bryce,
Thanks for the comments. I'm going to use calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate for the GH. I was originally just adding tap back to reconstitute and this works really well for softwater fish that like a somewhat neutral pH but my wild Betta macrostomas and some of my other fish like water with very low TDS as well as a pH reading as low as 5 depending on the species, although I usually keep them at a pH of 6

My tap water has so much carbonate hardness that adding back enough tap to get a reasonable GH also makes it quite hard to keep my pH where I need it to be. I would have to add enough seachem acid buffer to elicit a pH crash and then add seachem alkaline buffer until it stabalizes at my desired pH. Doing this whole process increases my TDS which I don't want to do.

So what I do now is start with 100% RO/DI water and add calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate until I reach a GH of 2-3 depending on the fish. Then I add 1 quart of tap to 5 gallons of this new water. I've found that this gives me just enough KH and after aging the water with catappa leaves and aeration I get a pretty stable pH of 6.0.

Because I'm breeding my fish I just wanted to make sure that there is also enough of whatever else (manganese, boron, cobalt, etc.) for my fish, especially the developing fry. What I wanted to know is, does Flourish Trace or Flourish if you think it's better have everything that my fish would need for proper egg developement, eloctrolyte balance, etc.

The reason I chose Flourish Trace is that I didn't really want to add some of the stuff in Flourish. For example: nitrogen, phosphate, more calcium, more magnesium, etc. But maybe I was wrong. Should I be adding everything in Flourish back in? Do my fish need nitrogen and phosphate? Also once I get my GH set I didn't want to add any more calcium and magnesium.

So what I really wanted to know is what should I be adding back in besides calcium and magnesium for my fish? and what product would be best, in other words, what pretty much has everything that my fish need without the things that they don't? and at what dosage (do i just follow the instructions)? The reason I don't want to add things that they don't need is that I want to keep TDS as low as possible.

Lastly, in case you guys are wondering the reason I want things to be near optimal is because most of my fish are wild stock. I have some wild Betta macrostoma as well as other wild Bettas and some other wild fish. Some of them are pretty expensive ($300/pair) and so I would really like the conditions to be as close to perfect as possible...especially as the fry are developing and growing.

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I'm no fry expert, but my understanding is that they really get everything they need (including trace elements) from their yolk sack and the food that they'll eventually transition to.

What makes you think you need a GH that is so high? If the fish are really found in nature in a low TDS environment, the GH of that water will be very low too. The only thing that concerns me about what you're doing now is that the CaCl2 supplies tons of chloride - certainly much more than they see in nature. They need more than zero, but I really think CaSO4 would be a better option for the majority of your calcium.

Good luck!
hey Bryce,
do you consider a general hardness of 2-3 (35.8-53.7ppm) high?

What is a good source for calcium sulfate? Do you just use a laboratory type of calcium sulfate or an aquarium type of supplement?
A GH of 2 or 3 is actually quite low, but there are plenty of natural waterways with a GH of almost zero. Fish live and breed just fine in these areas. I'm saying that if you're trying to keep your TDS low, you can get away with much less Ca & Mg, assuming you're only worried about breeding fish.
I agree with BryceM that you shouldn’t use CaCl as this adds a lot of Cl, which is not good for fish.

If you are not adding a lot of Mg you might try MgCO3 and CaSO4. Using these will keep down your TDS and increase kH; however, if you need a lot of Mg, you will have a solubility problem.

You are still going to need something else to keep your pH stable. If your tap water is adding kH and not much gH that implies that it has a lot of sodium. It is impossible to increase kH much without sodium so I would just use NaHCO3 and skip the tap water altogether.

As far as trace elements, you can add these, it will not hurt, but I doubt that fish take in trace elements like plants do. They get what they need from their food. If the food you are feeding your fish is alive (rotifers, paramecium, micro-worms) then they probably have the “right stuff” for your fish.
Hi Ray,
thanks for the info. I'm using Kent's liquid calcium. I kind of just assumed it was safe since it was made for aquariums. You seem like you know about these kinds of things. What happens to the chloride when it enters the aquarium? Does it seperate from the calcium? If you aerate the water does that get rid of some of the chloride portion? Does the chloride turn into chlorine? I have no idea about these kinds of stuff. I got an A in Biochem during college but that was a long time ago.

Why is calcium sulfate better? Fish don't mind the sulfate portion?

I kind of thought that since I'm using magnesium sulfate, i shouldn't use calcium sulfate to avoid too much sulfur.

I read that there are two kinds of calcium sulfate. One is heated up less then the other and this affects it's solubility. Is that correct and if so which type should I get? Is there any way of knowing which type you are getting? If one is better than the other I would like to make sure I'm using the better type.

My calcium to magnesium ratio is about 3.5 to 1. Will this cause the solubility problem you mentioned? Do you recommend a different ratio? I kind of tried to mimic the the ratio in Seachem's equilibrium. I start out with 100% ro/di water and I add liquid calcium to reach 70 ppm. Then i use magnesium sulfate until I reach 90 ppm of TDS. I then dilute to reach my desired general hardness. Usually a TDS reading between 50 and 70 depending on the fish. after that I add tap at 1 quart per 5 gallons of water and flourish trace at the recommended dosage.....this barley affects the TDS reading. I read that fish like/need other things in their water besides magnesium and calcium for proper electrolyte balance. Everyone's been saying that this is incorrect and that they will get everything else from their food.

I don't even know if this is what I should be doing. Is there a flaw to my process?

I could also just add Kent's RO right or Seachem's Equilibirum. What happened is that with both of these products when I reached my desired TDS levels my general hardness is still way too low. Do you think that with either of these products I can just add them until I reach say 60 ppm TDS and that amount would supply more than enough calcium and magnesium for my fish? When i did this and tested for GH i got readings below 1. Basically there wasn't enough hardness to even change the color in the vial. I was worried that my fish needed more calcium and magnesium so I switched to the liquid calcium and magnesium sulfate.

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Chloride is not the same as chlorine. Chemically they're night and day. In the same vein, sulphate is also not the same as sulphur.
I'm sorry if I used the wrong words. I was trying to type as fast as I could so that I wouldn't be late for a movie. BTW "Wanted" with Angelina Jolie was really good. Just got back.

I kind of wanted to know what happens when you put magnesium sulfate into water or an aquarium for that matter. Does it stay together like that or does the magnesium and sulfate seperate and if it does, what happens to the sulfate? Does it remain sulfate or does it transform into sulphur?

Also same question with the calcium chloride or the calcium sulfate.

Then, if the answer is that they remain the same, I wanted to know is sulfate better than chloride and why?

In nature when they say that there is magnesium in the water, is it in the form of magnesium sulfate, some other compound, or just magnesium? If so, is there a way to put just magnesium or just calcium in the water. Or does it not make any difference? Apparently it does because everyone seems to think that sulfate is better than chloride.

Then lastly I wanted to know the difference between the different types of calcium sulfate. Apparently one is heated more than the other and is either more, or less, soluble in water. I think that the low heat one is the more soluble one. I would think that it would be better for use in an aquarium but I wanted to know if anyone knows for sure. I read that the low heat calcium sulfate is used in desiccants. I've added water to desiccants before and sometimes it get's pretty not sure if it's even possible to use this form. I think that's the anhydrite form or something.

Basically I was hoping that someone had all the answers so that I wouldn't have to find my old textbooks, call my old professor (don't even know his number anymore), or research it on the web and still not be really sure of exactly what I'm doing.

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I also heard that people just use plaster of Paris (calcium sulfate) to increase calcium. But I've read that there are also other "stuff" in there as well and I'm not sure if this is ok. If you use things like Barrs GH Booster is there any way to know that the calcium sulfate that they use isn't just plaster of Paris? I would feel much better if someone like Seachem or Kent produced a calcium sulfate supplement for the aquarium. If calcium sulfate is better than calcium chloride how come none of the big companies produce it? I'm not implying that it's not, I just want to know why, in case there's some obvious reason I'm overlooking. Or does someone make it and I just haven't found it yet?
You are asking way more questions than I can answer reasonably.

Here are some answers not necessarily in any order.

Chlorides are not the same thing as chlorine.

Here is something that you seem to be confused about. Things like Kent's liquid Calcium are designed for Marine aquaria. Salt water fish have entirely different requirements for water. In general products designed for one environment are not suitable for the other.

Calcium chloride is a salt. When you put it in water you get Ca+2 + 2 Cl-
Calcium Sulfate is a salt. When you put it in water you get Ca+2 + SO4-2
Both give you the same calcium ion but different acid ions.

All the different Calcium Sulfates become the same in water. I cannot say for sure why companies don't use Calcium Sulfate but it may be that it is not very soluble in water and they cannot sell it as a concentrated solution. It is more difficult for people to use powders accurately because they do not have scales to weigh the stuff.
Here are places to buy food grade Calcium Sulfate:

Things like Sodium(Na+), Potassium(K+), Chlorides(Cl-), Phosphates (PO4-3) Nitrates (NO3-) etc. are only found in very small quantities dissolved in fresh water. Some of these like Cl- are toxic to some fresh water fish. And some like NO3- are only found in polluted water.

Things like Calcium (Ca+2), Magnesium(Mg+2), Sulfate (SO4-2) and Carbonate (CO2-2) are commonly found in fresh water.

You would only like to add things from the second group to your tank but when you want to maintain special conditions, you have to compromise and add things from group one.

To come up with your own special tank requirements is not that easy to do. You have to understand a lot of chemistry. My feeling is that you should stick with a commercial program and not worry to much about the minor differences between them and what you think is the best aquarium conditions.

That being said, if you insist on making your own special water you need to get organized. Write down all the special conditions you want to maintain (make sure you include everything). For example:

kH 3 - 6
gH 4 - 7
pH 5 - 7
Ca/Mg 2 - 5
TDS 100 - 200

Now just because you can write it doesn't mean it can be done. Most of these requirements are interdependent and changing one will change another; so, it is possible to have a tank requirement that cannot be produced.

OK you probably already know the rules:
Ca and Mg increase gH
CO3 increase kH
Reducing pH reduces kH
Everything increases TDS

Now using only things from group 2 or as little as possible from group 1, make your recipe. Believe me this is a very tough problem!
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Re: You are asking way more questions than I can answer reasonably.

Believe me this is a very tough problem!
Yes, exactly.

I have a pretty solid chemistry and biochemistry background and I've developed a "recipe" for reconstituting RO water that seems to work in my tank for my needs. It's taken a couple of years to work this out and lots of thought and effort.

After all that, I'm actually still pretty clueless about many of the interactions between nutrients. A simple program is almost always better unless you're willing to go to the effort to understand the chemistry and follow trends in a scientific way over weeks & months.

For 90% of the people out there, adding a bit of tapwater to RO water is good enough - arguably even better than experimenting "in the dark".
thanks guys.

So I should first reconsider simply adding back some tap. Because of my pH issues I would want to use 5% tap max. Do you foresee any problems with only 5% tap?

If i use the equilibrium instead do you think the extra potassium can be ignored? Should I just dose to reach my desired TDS of say 50-60 ppm and feel confident that there's enough calcium and magnesium for my fish? Equilibrium has 23% Potassium, 8.06% Calcium, and 2.41% magnessium. So most of the TDS would be from Potassium? Or should I dose so that I have enough Calcium and Magnesium and just deal with the extra Potassium and high TDS?

5% tap should be fine, assuming you're dealing with soft-water species.

If you use only enough Equilibrium to bring the GH up to 3 or 4, the effect of the potassium should be pretty much zero.
Thanks guys.

Now getting back to the original question. It seems that you guys are saying that adding back trace minerals are unnecessary and that the fish get everything that they need from their food. I've read that a proper electrolyte balance is important. Does that mean that only calcium and magnesium is important and nothing else matters?

I guess if I'm adding back tap there should be enough of what the fish need.

But what if I use Equilibrium? No need for anything else?

OK getting back to your original question.

I looked up the data on Kent RO Right and Seachem equilibrium and agree with you. Seachem's formula has too much K and Kent's has too much Cl. I probably would not use either of these.

This is what I do. I mix my city water with RO water until I get a conductivity of about 120 microS. Then I adjust the pH to 6.5 using dilute H2SO4.

I change 20% of my tank each week using this.

When I test the water I get 5 deg gH, 1-2 deg kH, ca/mg = 1.

Since I'm also growing plants, I add KHPO4, KNO3, CO2 Flourish Excel and a bunch of trace elements. All these plus fish food tend to increase conductivity.

At 180 - 200 microS, I start changing water with pure RO.
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Re: OK getting back to your original question.

I looked up the data on Kent RO Right and Seachem equilibrium and agree with you. Seachem's formula has too much K and Kent's has too much Cl. I probably would not use either of these.

This is what I do. I mix my city water with RO water until I get a conductivity of about 120 microS. Then I adjust the pH to 6.5 using dilute H2SO4.

I change 20% of my tank each week using this.

When I test the water I get 5 deg gH, 1-2 deg kH, ca/mg = 1.

Since I'm also growing plants, I add KHPO4, KNO3, CO2 Flourish Excel and a bunch of trace elements. All these plus fish food tend to increase conductivity.

At 180 - 200 microS, I start changing water with pure RO.
Adjusting pH with an acid like H2SO4 may work fine if you are an experienced aquarium keeper, and have some experience with using such acids. But, I would strongly recommend that most of us not do that. The higher pH we will live with is well worth avoiding the possible hazards of playing around with strong acids. This is just my opinion, of course.
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