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Discussion Starter #1
I've been using Barr's GH Booster and nothing I do (stirring with a whisk, dissolving in boiling water, etc) seems to get me around the tank looking like a snow storm just hit after adding it. While it mostly dissipates after 12 hrs or so, I would still like to avoid it if possible.

I did some research and found that GH Booster consists of:
3 parts Potassium Sulfate
3 parts Calcium Sulfate
1 Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts)

Apparently it's the Calcium Sulfate that is difficult to dissolve.

I was reading Rex's Planted tank guide and learned that Calcium Carbonate would add both GH and KH in equal amounts, but it too is difficult to dissolve.

Rex goes on to recommend using Calcium Chloride and Epsom Salts to boost GH and Baking Soda to boost KH. He notes that you need to add these separately or you will end up with Calcium Sulfate which is hard to dissolve.

The main difference between the GH booster and what Rex is recommending is Potassium Sulfate. While some descriptions of EI include dosing PS, I read that there is plenty of Potassium in the Potassium Nitrate.

My question is, does the Potassium dosing in EI assume that Potassium exists as part of the GH (whether added or existing in the water)? If I stick with the GH Booster formula, can I make it with Calcium Chloride instead of CS as long as I use it in a proportion that provides an equivalent amount of calcium? AquariumFertilizer.com sells both CC and CS.

Incidentally, my LFS said they reconstitute RO water for their tanks using a marine buffer product, but I'm looking for a solution that uses raw ingredients which come at a lower cost than commercial products.

Michael
 

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If you use only Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) to add calcium you add too much Cl- and your plants may be not very happy.

It is better to use Calcium sulfate (CaSO4) or even better a mix of CaSO4 and CaCl2.

To add magnesium I also use Epsom Salts.

Calcium Carbonate is very difficult to dissolve (far more difficult than CaSO4)

To raise the KH value you can use Baking Soda (NaHCO3) but in this way you are adding a lot of sodium (Na+). Personally I use a mix of NaHCO3 and KHCO3.
 

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The main difference between the GH booster and what Rex is recommending is Potassium Sulfate. While some descriptions of EI include dosing PS, I read that there is plenty of Potassium in the Potassium Nitrate.
I don't know the answer to your other questions and am interested to hear what others will say. But I have always had to dose extra potassium. Otherwise I see potassium deficiency with out-of-control nitrates.

Cheryl
 

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Why not mix up a gallon jug of solution so it can have time to dissolve before you do a water change?

The GH Booster also has ferric sulfate and manganese sulfate as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Why not mix up a gallon jug of solution so it can have time to dissolve before you do a water change?

The GH Booster also has ferric sulfate and manganese sulfate as well.
Well, it used to have 5 components as it duplicated a commercially available product. But at some point it changed to the formula I mentioned (that's what is on the label, and has been confirmed elsewhere.)
 

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Well, it used to have 5 components as it duplicated a commercially available product. But at some point it changed to the formula I mentioned (that's what is on the label, and has been confirmed elsewhere.)
Ah, I didn't realize they had changed it. I just remembered that it was a supposed exact copy of Equilibrium.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If you use only Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) to add calcium you add too much Cl- and your plants may be not very happy.
(snip)
To raise the KH value you can use Baking Soda (NaHCO3) but in this way you are adding a lot of sodium (Na+). Personally I use a mix of NaHCO3 and KHCO3.
According to The Barr Report July 2006 newsletter, Chloride is not the same as Chlorine: "Chloride is an essential nutrient for plant growth and metabolism." and "Although the amount of chloride required by plants for photosynthesis is met by extremely small concentrations, high rates of chloride have notably positive effects on soil/root relations, such as inhibiting the conversion of nitrate to ammonia, enhancing manganese availability, and increasing beneficial microorganisms."

The article also addresses sodium: "Generally, sodium is not considered a limiting factor for freshwater plants, unless sodium concentrations reach upper levels where freshwater plants cannot survive. Plants that are salt tolerant, and Na tolerant tend to have very good gate keeping in their roots and leaves, this process keeps the salt out, and the freshwater in."

Since we do regular water changes under EI, the chances of reading bad levels of sodium is minimal. Having seen the amount of salt it takes to produce sea water (1/2 cup per gallon), the sodium contained in the baking soda required to get to 4 dkh (something like 3/4 tsp per 20g) comes nowhere close.

That said, there must be a reason GH booster uses Calcium Sulfate rather than Calcium Chloride. The reason might be because they wanted a single component and mixing Calcium Chloride and Epsom Salts directly would result in Calcium Sulfate anyway. So is this a matter of convenience or is there more to it? According to the fertilizer calculators, the amount of calcium for a portion is very similar between the two. Since EI over doses and uses water changes to keep levels in check, it doesn't seem like there should be a problem.

Michael
 

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Yes, and according to Seachem:
"Equilibrium™ is specifically designed to establish the ideal mineral content for the planted aquarium. Equilibrium™ contains no sodium or chloride (which can be detrimental to a planted aquarium at elevated levels)"

There are also studies about Na toxicity for plants search with Google for SAR (sodium absorption ratio)

Best Regards
 

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Since we do regular water changes under EI, the chances of reading bad levels of sodium is minimal. Having seen the amount of salt it takes to produce sea water (1/2 cup per gallon), the sodium contained in the baking soda required to get to 4 dkh (something like 3/4 tsp per 20g) comes nowhere close.
In Sea Water all of your plants will die...... to reach 4°dKH with only NaHCO3 you are adding 33mg/l of Na+.
You say that It is a minimal amount; I think that is an high amount.
Your plant will survive but your plant may do better with less Na+.

Sorry for my bad English.

Best Regards
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I agree, but I'm not adding sodium to my tank. (Besides, sodium alone is unstable and would explode upon contact with water!) I'm adding Baking Soda which is the standard recommendation by all, including plant pro Tom Barr. The commercial product Wardley's Raise pH is literally baking soda (http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/brands?tbl=brands&id=8007016).

But I wasn't asking about baking soda. I was asking about Calcium Chloride.
 

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Calcium sulfate is only slightly soluable in water: 0.24g/100g of water or ~ 2g/L.

1 tsp = 4.93cm3

1 tsp to 5L of water (1.3gals) should be a good way to dissolve the CaSO4 and then add it to the tank.
 

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Yes, but my point is that we're far from creating sea water with the sodium contained in baking soda. The chart on this page (http://www.finostrom.com.gr/images/aqua/fertilizers/map.htm) lists Na as a beneficial nutrient for aquatic plants.
Yes, and it is beneficial at 1ppm or at 10ppm or at 100ppm?
Or at 100ppm may be a problem?
And you are so sure that at 30ppm is beneficial and it is not a problem?

Iron is needed by plant but if you add 10ppm or iron from iron sulfate all your plant will die.
But plant need iron.....

I don't trust Tom Barr and who follow him

Good Bye
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That is true of most things. We would be dead without oxygen, but pure oxygen would be toxic to us. The target range for iron in planted tanks is 0.2-1.0 ppm.

Learning the necessary components and the appropriate dosage levels for our needs is a function of research and experience. Thus my posting here to ask questions I have as a result of the research I have done.
 

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Barrs GH Booster contains 3 parts calcium sulfate, 3 parts potassium sulfate and 1 part magnesium sulfate. This is an excellent water conditioner that slightly increases the pH of the water (makes it less acidic). One tablespoon or 16 grams will raise the GH of 20 gallons of water by 3 degrees or 1 meg/ liter. One of the problems with Seachem's Equilibrium (or any of Seachem's products) is that you pay to have it mixed with water and then you pay to have the water shipped to you. We at aquariumfertilizer.com think that if you have an aquarium, that you have plenty of water.
 

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Julia, Seachem Equilibrium is a dry product. Just like Barr's GH booster.
 

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Barrs GH Booster is a 1 part magnesium sulfate/3 parts calcium sulfate/3 parts potassium sulfate. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate. Chloride is an important element for plants to make chlorophyll. Small amounts of sodium are not a problem for fresh water plants.
 

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Imo gh booster causes problems... many rarer type plants love soft water.

If your using ro water, I guess a little gh booster won't hurt.
 

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Hi All,

I am blessed and cursed with soft water. My dKH < 1.0 and my dGH < 2.0 as of last week. I know some would love to have soft water but I suffer with nutrient issues periodically. Typically not toxicity issues but deficiency issues.

I think most of us would agree that most of the nutrients we 'feed' our plants can become a toxicity issue if overdone just as underfeeding can cause deficiency issues.

When Tom Barr visited GSAS in 2010 I asked him how he deals with soft water (which he has in the Bay Area). He said he didn't worry much about dKH but did try to target a dGH = 5.0 except for soft water species tanks. I used to use Seachem Equlibrium after every water change. Then I started mixing up my own GH Booster as recommended by Tom Barr; it was 1/2 K2SO4, 1/4 CaSO4, and 1/4 MgSO4. But it caused a huge overdosing of potassium (K). Then I went with the Aquariumfertilizer.com formula of:
3 parts Potassium Sulfate, 3 parts Calcium Sulfate, 1 part Magnesium Sulfate by weight.
but it still caused excessive dosing of potassium. Now I mix up my own booster mix using the same ingredients. 1 part K2SO4, 1.25 parts CaSO4, and 1 part MgSO4 by weight. This give me a potassium level about the same as my calcium level and approximately a 3:1 Ca:Mg ratio.

I have used CaCl2 instead of CaSO4 when dosing Ca and Mg individually. Dosing equal amounts of CaCl2 and MgSO4 by volume (i.e. teaspoons) will give an approximate 3:1 Ca:Mg ratio. I always pre-mix my CaCl2 outside the aquarium, it creates a strong endothermic reaction (generates heat) and I would hate to have a fish eat one of those little white balls.
 
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