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  1. Thanks, @ererer. Appreciate all the suggestions. I've been using Equilibrium for GH and will try the crushed coral for KH and go back to using distilled/RO water with my tap water to adjust pH.
  2. Thanks, @Mmiller2001. This is very interesting. I do have some rocks in the tank and they are supposed to raise GH and pH. I also use Eco-Complete which I have heard raises pH, along with some driftwood and other sources of plant decay that might push the other way. Before adding these Seachem buffers into the mix, pH had been relatively stable, with a trend of slightly increasing over time, but I found KH was low. Will consider adopting smaller water changes or maybe shifting back to RO water, but it sounds like maybe I don't need to worry about it.
  3. Thanks, @SWilson, for these suggestions. I would like a more natural and tempered approach to pH and KH management. I'll look into these ideas. I recently replaced the substrate with Eco-Complete, and have heard that it might cause pH to rise. Other than the occasions when I've seen upswings in pH after water changes using these buffers, I have been pretty successful at maintaining a pH at or below 8. The swings didn't obviously stress the animals, but they are pretty strong and I was hoping to improve my pH management before introducing less bullet-proof fish.
  4. Thanks @BIG GREEN, I'll look into that. I haven't tried any methods of lowering pH other than using lower pH source water or different Seachem products. Very interesting that KH is consumed by nitrifying bacteria. Will need to read up on that more myself. Mostly thanks to the Seachem Alkaline Buffer, the KH in my tank is around 8 dKH (140 ppm). The 0-1 dKH figure is for my tap water.
  5. Hi @LaurieinIA! Thanks for your response. It's true that if you use Alkaline Buffer alone it should raise your tank's pH. On the other hand, if you use Acid Buffer alone it should lower pH. The two are supposed to work together to allow you to target a specific pH. It says they work together to "adjust pH gradually" which sounds better than using either alone, though in practice I've seen more predictable results when using Acid Buffer in small amounts alone. If I was only trying to adjust pH, I suppose I could use Acid Buffer alone with some confidence, but I also want to boost KH. According to their instructions, Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer also work to adjusting KH in the tank, with Acid Buffer reducing KH some and Alkaline Buffer increasing KH somewhat more. I have been able to use the two together to reduce pH and increase KH at the same time, which was my goal, but the pH outcome has been hard to predict. It seems like it will be less stress on our fish to use crushed coral for KH and other water sources for pH, but would be glad to figure out how these products are supposed to work.
  6. Thanks, @Patrick_G. Glad to hear you've made it through. Remarkable how helpful the Amanos were (and maybe the Clithons). Even three weeks ago, most of the plants were covered with hair algae or BBA. But one by one they were cleaned spotless.
  7. Hi all, I have a 16 gallon planted tank in an area where tap water pH is high, but GH and KH are low. The API High pH Test comes through a strong violet which looks closer to the 8.4 pH color than the 8.8 pH color on the reference card, but might also be off the chart. The API GH and KH tests usually read 0-1. I am keeping danios, kuhli loaches, otocinclus, amano shrimp and snails, and I've tried to keep the pH down to around 8.0 and GH/KH around 6-8. I've tried combining bottled drinking water with tap water to match the pH in my tank, but while our bottled water is usually below 8.0 pH, sometimes it isn't. I found the SeaChem Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer when looking for a source to raise KH, and have tried to use it to address my KH and pH issues, but have run into two problems. First, the recommended ratios (such as 2.5 Alkaline to 1 Acid for a pH of 7.5) result in a lower than expected pH (varies, but around 6.5-6.8) when added to my tap water. Second, the pH of my tank water seems to rise significantly in the 24 hours after I add buffered water to the tank. I first tried to add Acid and Alkaline Buffer to my tap water to target my tank's pH (then 8.0). I ended up adding significantly more Alkaline Buffer than expected. I let the water sit for an hour and added gradually to the tank. I tested my tank water after and saw no change, but the next day when I retested the pH was up over 8.4 (maybe over 8.8). Fortunately the animals survived and I was able to pull the pH down by adding 1/4 tsp of Acid Buffer daily. This seems to lower pH by less than 0.2 each time. I've searched for suggestions on how to use these buffers, but haven't found much beyond the instructions on the backs, which don't provide much information on these issues. I can call SeaChem, but wondered if anyone had experience with these, or would suggest another approach. I use Equilibrium to raise GH and have crushed coral I could use to raise KH if this Acid/Alkaline Buffer solution is a bust. Any thoughts? Thanks! -Greg
  8. Following up on this old post, just wanted to report that the nitrate and algae situation in this 16 gallon tank has improved significantly (knock wood). Many thanks to @TheDukeAnumber1, @Maggie and @Superjoepez for all your advice. Based on all your suggestions, @Irene's videos and other reading, in the last couple months I reprogrammed the light (Plant 3.0), added salvinia minima and expanded my other plants and started using SeaChem Flourish. I did spot treatment of algae on plants with Easy Carbon and later hydrogen peroxide. Lost a number of leaves (and tossed some leafless plants) in the process. A few of the plants responded well, but on the whole I was more successful with pruning / removing blighted plants. I saw this video from Green Aqua (https://youtu.be/Rce2_BgGveU) that inspired me to beef up my clean-up crew with amano shrimp and clithon snails. The shrimp seem to have had the largest impact. They were under 1/2" each when they arrived, and were bullied for a while by the alpha zebra danio, but they've grown well and are now grazing around the tank. The Green Aqua video suggests that clithon snails are more effective than (other?) nerites at eating different types of algae, but ours spend most of their time on the tank walls. I had the lamp down to 7 hours a day, but expanded to around 8.5 hours once the algae levels dropped. Still dealing with some cyanobacteria and green water, but otherwise more concerned with keeping the clean up crew happy. Now I just need to learn how to take a decent photo.
  9. Thanks! @Irene's videos have been a big help. I will have to check that one out.
  10. Thanks a lot for your thoughts here. You are right that the light is a Plant 3.0 and the substrate is pebbles. They are covered with acrylic paint, FWIW. The plant in the center is a crypt. I've switched the light to 1 hour ramps and the reduced lighting schedule and will keep an eye on the moneywort as you suggest.
  11. Thanks, Maggie. All very helpful! Glad to hear you've had success with BBA. Have you been removing plants and drying before applying Easy Carbon? I can pull some of my plants, but not sure what to do with the ones rooted in the substrate.
  12. Thanks a lot for these ideas. I will def look into some floating plants. I have done some spot treatment with Easy Carbon, but will try doing more.
  13. Hi everyone, Just checking in with a request for any thoughts on balancing light and nutrients for our lightly planted tank to control algae. We have a 16 gallon tank with a handful of "easy" slow growing plants, and a small company of fish and snails. We've had the tank for about 10 months now. We've been trying to manage cyanobacteria and a few types of algae (lately green water and some fine, long green hairs) - with a UV sterilizer, Maracyn, cleaning the substrate and plants by hand a few times a week and water changes once weekly - usually 20%, but 40% every fourth week. We've cut back further in the past month on light to help fight the algae (still 12 hours, but at peak of 30%), and moved from a norm of <5ppm nitrates to a norm of >40ppm nitrates. We used to fertilize with Easy Green up to 20ppm nitrate, but with nitrates at >40ppm, we've switched to a single round of root tabs (5 or 6) and SeaChem Equilibrium instead of Easy Green. The tests we have (all API) show pH 7.2, ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 0ppm, nitrate 40ppm, phosphates 1ppm, KH 5 and GH 6. Any thoughts on what direction to go next? Should we keep cutting back on light in hopes that the algae will come under control, and increase water changes to deal with the nitrates? If so, should we target a specific nitrate ppm in our changes? Should we look to get below 20ppm so we can go back to adding Easy Green? Any additional tests we should be running to see whether a lack of a specific nutrient could be holding back plant growth that could consume those nitrates and maybe dent the algae? Should we be aiming for higher KH/GH figures? Planting more? The tank is in a room that gets a lot of light in the morning and is often lit at night. We cover the sides of the tank when its light is off, but a partial exposure on the top lets light in. Any thoughts on whether we should be more aggressive in blacking out the tank at night while still allowing oxygen exchange? Thanks!
  14. Good to know. Thanks a lot for taking the time!
  15. Thanks, Koi. Good to know. You're right I've been doing 20-30% changes -- vacuuming out waste from the substrate in the front, but leaving the planted areas in the back undisturbed. I remove decaying plant matter wherever I find it. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrates (before fertilizing) are consistently low. Is there something I should look to to see whether it's time for a 50% water change?
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