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Testing water hardness has been a pain for me. Where I live those tests made for aquarium are imprecise and sometimes doesn't even work.

I know for a fact that my water is soft but I haven't had much issues in my first tank so far because it was made for only one betta and I used only fast growing/not demanding plants.

I'm going to build a new tank and I'm afraid that my GH may ruin it. I will try to use a test kit made for swimming pools, they seem to be more precise than aquarium ones.
 

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Testing water hardness has been a pain for me. Where I live those tests made for aquarium are imprecise and sometimes doesn't even work.

I know for a fact that my water is soft but I haven't had much issues in my first tank so far because it was made for only one betta and I used only fast growing/not demanding plants.

I'm going to build a new tank and I'm afraid that my GH may ruin it. I will try to use a test kit made for swimming pools, they seem to be more precise than aquarium ones.
I don't know where you live, but can you order things from places like Amazon? Look for a GH test kit, not a KH.
 

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Testing water hardness has been a pain for me. Where I live those tests made for aquarium are imprecise and sometimes doesn't even work.

I know for a fact that my water is soft but I haven't had much issues in my first tank so far because it was made for only one betta and I used only fast growing/not demanding plants.

I'm going to build a new tank and I'm afraid that my GH may ruin it. I will try to use a test kit made for swimming pools, they seem to be more precise than aquarium ones.
If it's municipal water, you can usually get test results from them, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Is it possible to figure out how much of each I use to create stock solution and how much stock solution I can use in 40 liter tank.
The recipe for preparing stock solutions is my first post on this thread. If you've got just one tank, you may not need a stock solution. Here's what I'd try if I just had one tank:

I calculated dosage for a 40 liter tank and came up with 1/4 tsp (1,500 g) of "wet" calcium chloride (CaCl2∙H2O). Since CaCl2∙H2O is only 28% pure calcium, you are adding 422 mg of pure Ca. 422 divided by 40 liters = 10 ppm Ca. That's close enough.

I would just add a ¼ tsp of KCl and a pinch of MgSO4 and call it a day. Calcium is the most important nutrient.

Be sure to mix up each ingredient separately in a little water before adding to the tank. You don't want your fish eating pellets of CaCl2!

Thanks for sending all the details. I looked at Melbourne, Australia water quality. Interesting. Parameters look similar to New York City water. Nice water but very soft.
 

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Ms. Walstad I'd like to know your opinion about Seachem Replenish. Their older product, Equilibrium, consist of sulphate salts that would be harmful to the tanks because they convert to H2S. This Replenish product is made all using Cl salts, do you think it's okay to use them? I'd like to prepare my own solution but there are no chemical supply store where I lived. Had to order them online and the shipping is quite unreasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
This product, which I did not know about until you wrote, looks like a good and easy way to increase water hardness. Based on the product reviews and my own bias towards chloride as a safer anion, I would go with it. If you get bad results, please let us know.

Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention!
 

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This product, which I did not know about until you wrote, looks like a good and easy way to increase water hardness. Based on the product reviews and my own bias towards chloride as a safer anion, I would go with it. If you get bad results, please let us know.

Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention!
You're welcome Ms. Walstad. My Seachem Replenish is arrived today. Added some to my tank and accidentally put too much. Meant to Increase my GH from 3 to 8 and ends up increasing it to 13. I'll let you updated about the results.
 

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I looked into replenish a bit, because I currently use equilibrium to raise my hardness. According to seachem, replenish isn't made for planted tanks and they warn that it "contains higher levels of sodium and chloride that may be stressful to plants". https://www.seachem.com/support/forums/forum/general-discussion/22045-equilibrium-or-replenish

I don't know much of the science behind water hardness, could someone explain why sulphate salts would be more/less harmful than sodium and chloride?
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
You have a point. It seems Replenish is not designed for planted tanks. Na isn't the problem, it just doesn't have enough K and Mg.

Looking at the product ingredients, it has 13% Ca, 1% Mg, 0.12% K, and 0.6% Na.

We know that 100 ppm NaCl (which is 40 ppm Na), inhibits plants. Let's say you add enough Replenish to get hard water with 13 ppm Ca. That means you'll have added only 0.6 ppm Na. That 0.6 ppm Na is not much compared to 40 ppm Na and should not inhibit plants

Replenish only contains 0.12% K. If you add 13 ppm Ca, you're only adding 0.12 ppm K. That's probably not enough and K is a major nutrient.

Same problem with Mg.

Anyway, I thought Replenish would be an easy softwater fix, but I was wrong. I'll go back to my own homemade recipe as being better than either Replenish or Equilibrium. My book has the recipe (p. 87).
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
I don't know much of the science behind water hardness, could someone explain why sulphate salts would be more/less harmful than sodium and chloride?
Good question. A little sulfate is fine AND sulfur (S) is a major nutrient. However, too much sulfate in the water can cause problems in a tank containing an organic soil underlayer. Most potting soils and other organic soils become quite anaerobic when submerged. If there's a lot of sulfates in the water, they will percolate into the soil layer. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (my book, p. 67) will convert these sulfates into H2S (hydrogen sulfide). This smelly gas kills plant roots, inhibits plant growth, and may even harm bottom-dwelling fish. H2S is more toxic than ammonia.

Chloride is not toxic and presents no such problems. (This has been discussed thoroughly in another thread.)

If you look at the Equilibrium product, it is made solely from the sulfate salts of Ca, Mg, K, Fe, and Mn as in CaSO4, K2SO4, MgSO4, etc. That means when you add Equilibrium, you are adding a TON of sulfates. This product may work in gravel or sand tanks or ones with a mineral type soil, but not ones with an organic soil underlayer.
 

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You have a point. It seems Replenish is not designed for planted tanks. Na isn't the problem, it just doesn't have enough K and Mg.

Looking at the product ingredients, it has 13% Ca, 1% Mg, 0.12% K, and 0.6% Na.

We know that 100 ppm NaCl (which is 40 ppm Na), inhibits plants. Let's say you add enough Replenish to get hard water with 13 ppm Ca. That means you'll have added only 0.6 ppm Na. That 0.6 ppm Na is not much compared to 40 ppm Na and should not inhibit plants

Replenish only contains 0.12% K. If you add 13 ppm Ca, you're only adding 0.12 ppm K. That's probably not enough and K is a major nutrient.

Same problem with Mg.

Anyway, I thought Replenish would be an easy softwater fix, but I was wrong. I'll go back to my own homemade recipe as being better than either Replenish or Equilibrium. My book has the recipe (p. 87).
Oh well that's a bummer! But I guess considering my position a little bit of Replenish is better than nothing. From what you're saying K and Mg is quite an Important element for plant. What's the sign that my plants lack any of them?
 

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I am putting together the ingredients for the water hardness recipe in the book. Found epsom salts no problem, and of course baking soda is pretty easy to come by.

For KCl, I found salt substitute at the store, but it looked like it had other additives as well. Ingredient list attached, does this seem like it would be okay to add, or should I find a more pure variety?

For CaCl2, I went to a couple places, but apparently most people aren't looking for de-icer in the summer. Is the best way to get this to order online? Is there some specialty store that might carry it?

Thanks!
 

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You can buy those chemicals on Amazon, of all places. The prices might not be what you want, but they seem to have everything.
 

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Thanks for the suggestion @hoppycalif. I actually found a local brewer who carries calcium chloride - apparently it's also used for making beer!

How about the salt substitute? Do those other ingredients seem worrisome?
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
I don't think that any of the minor ingredients listed for the 'Salt Substitute' would cause a problem.
 

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I am putting together the ingredients for the water hardness recipe in the book. Found epsom salts no problem, and of course baking soda is pretty easy to come by.

For KCl, I found salt substitute at the store, but it looked like it had other additives as well. Ingredient list attached, does this seem like it would be okay to add, or should I find a more pure variety?

For CaCl2, I went to a couple places, but apparently most people aren't looking for de-icer in the summer. Is the best way to get this to order online? Is there some specialty store that might carry it?

Thanks!
Hey Jatcar95,

I'm up the coast from you in Seattle and figuring out my dosing as well to harden up the water for my tanks. What did you end up doing and how did you measure out the dry ingredients? Did you end up with a recipe you are happy with?

I have the same nosalt for KCl, and a bag of MgCl and a bag if CaCl. I tried the recipe to harden with Mg and Ca and it worked surprisingly well, I got my GH to 8 (from less than 1) on the first crack, but it was just by pouring some into an API test tube, and eyeballing the level in the tube before combining with water.

Not the most precise method.

I'd love to hear if you made up solutions and if so how you measured it out.
 

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It just occurred to me that it doesn't matter what the source is - I need to mix an arbitrarily concentrated solution of each, and calibrate how much of each solution will raise the GH according to the 4:1 ratio, and then dose based on that, so I'll have my own custom concentrated solutions and my dosing calibrated to whatever random concentration mine are.

So, I guess, nevermind on that!

Page 87 gives me all I need, I just need to pick a concentration and calibrate to that and I'm good.
 

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Hey Jatcar95,

I'm up the coast from you in Seattle and figuring out my dosing as well to harden up the water for my tanks. What did you end up doing and how did you measure out the dry ingredients? Did you end up with a recipe you are happy with?

I have the same nosalt for KCl, and a bag of MgCl and a bag if CaCl. I tried the recipe to harden with Mg and Ca and it worked surprisingly well, I got my GH to 8 (from less than 1) on the first crack, but it was just by pouring some into an API test tube, and eyeballing the level in the tube before combining with water.

Not the most precise method.

I'd love to hear if you made up solutions and if so how you measured it out.
Just moved down from Seattle myself!
Very similar water to Portland, it seems. I ended up calculating the ratios of each chemical as tablespoons per gallon (easy measurements I had laying around, not super scientific), and mixed up a solution that way. I have all the calculations sitting somewhere, I will see if I can dig it up.

I did have one mishap where I confused using a specific amount of the diluted solution vs using the pure chemical, and briefly had a saltwater tank. Oops! Did a 100% water change and retried, everything turned out fine (only had plants + snails + blackworms at the time).

I planned on mixing together all the chemicals in a single jar, so next time the measurements would be easier. Never got around to it though, as I only needed to raise the hardness that first time.
 
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