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KH reading question


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I am wondering if I am doing something wrong when it comes to testing my KH. I am using the API test kit and the first drop is a really light blue, the second drop goes almost clear to VERY pale yellow. I know its supposed to go from blue to yellow but is it a certain "shade" of yellow? So per that reading I have a KH of 2?? I added a 3rd drop and it became a readable shade of yellow... but that was just to see what would happen 

I have posted my struggle with keeping the KH in my 5 gallon pea puffer tank to even a reading level. Water changes keep my PH up but not my KH. I have a small wonder shell in there and keep one in at all times. I purchased coral from ACO but not sure if or how to use it. He is doing well, eating swimming enjoying life. Plants are thriving as well. I am afraid to do anything but wondering if I "should" do something. 

I don't have equilibrium but can easily get some if that is what is recommended. ALL my other tanks are fine KH wise.  

Here are the parameters for reference purposes:

PH 7.0 (FYI rest of my tanks are ALL 7.4)

KH 2 (on the ACO strip big fat 0!)

GH 14 (or on the ACO strip 300)

Ammonia 0

Nitrate: 20 

Nitrites: 0

Temp 78.2

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Posted (edited)

I'd call that a dkh of 1. KH can be measured in either parts per million of carbonate and bicarbonate in your water, or in degrees. 1 dkh equals 17.9 ppm. Of course, the real answer is that it's around that amount, but we don't need finer detail for aquarium purposes.

As long as your kh and ph stay stable, I wouldn't worry about it. Just be sure to do regular water changes, which will help to replenish KH. Based on what you said about the pH of your other tanks, I'm assuming that the kh of your tap water reads higher?

Edited by Eric R
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35 minutes ago, old409 said:

I'm confused about the API  kh test readings. One drop turns my water blue. Is there a chart or something that gives the meanings for the number of drops used and the color. Very confusing to me but then at my age a lot of things are.

It is kinda confusing I almost posted the same question as OP a couple days ago because our situation is basically identical. I do 1 drop it turns blue a second drop turns clear and it never really goes what I would call "yellow" its's kinda a clearish slightly yellowish.

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Posted (edited)

One drop blue is normal.  Count the total drops required to turn vivid yellow (not pale).  Total drops (including initial one) is the dKH.

I have access to some very sophisticated lab equipment, and have used it to verify API results, which are pretty accurate IMO.

API gets somewhat of a bad rap for inaccuracy, across their testing line, but I’ve found that most of that can be traced to user error, or difficulty matching shades of color (not everybody has great color vision).

The API tests are certainly more accurate than any test strip out there, but of course takes more time and effort.

If you want the most accurate result, there are 3 variables that should be given special attention.

1. The test sample temperature (and reagents) should be as close to 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) as possible.

2. Do not trust that 5ml line on the test tubes (verify against a graduated lab cylinder.  I’ve had test tubes with some pretty significant variation in this respect.  So much so, I monger use the API tubes, but blank ones which I’ve marked against graduated cylinders.

3.  Flow the instructions (to the letter) regarding time elapsed requirements for tests that specify them.

Edited by tonyjuliano
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@Gestaltgal yes kh is responsible for the stability of the ph. I totally agree with testing your tap water often, I just realized yesterday that some new wells & maybe water treatment plant were being constructed right across my street and my water parameters has changed dramatically somehow haha 

@Sandra the fish rookie here are the instructions for the crushed coral if you would like to use it. So basically I would use a half pound of crushed coral and use it either in the substrate or filter in a filter media bag. 
BD34FEBC-1326-488F-B52F-366A2E73FAF6.jpeg.01aba2760548491098d3188761badf38.jpeg

@Sandra the fish rookie  @old409 @sudofish The instructions from the API website mention that the color should go from a blue (first drop) color to a bright yellow. So I would consider your kH to be 3 dkh Sandra. Also, you need to count the amount of drops to turn the water to a bright yellow color and each drop is considered 1 dkh or 17.9 ppm. I will attach the table from API here @old409.

28A03E8D-9760-4D61-BB45-275164C3E3AF.jpeg.9561d25336d52503fb9a98db8d929ace.jpeg

2C89290B-BCD7-4104-968C-1E56F5AA43FF.jpeg.3d48bfb3159962a31415b35f67033ff0.jpeg

@Sandra the fish rookie I think the question I have here is why your aquarium water has a much lower kh than your tap water. Do you have any pictures of the aquarium? When was the last time you did a water change?

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@Isaac M I honestly wish I new.

Here is what is different about the 5 gallon verses all my other tanks. Also see picture below 

1) sand substrate

2) all rhizome plants only (so they can be removed for cleaning if needed)

3) filter is a sump type which is in a drawer under the main tank (name of tank is Fishtastic 5 gallon) tank holds 5 gallons and drawer holds 1.5 gallons of water. 

Last water change was 23 May 2021. I really try to be careful about water changes in this tiny tank. I do them once a week. always testing chemistry before and after. 

5 Gallon Puffer Tank 2 20210529.jpg

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@Sandra the fish rookie this is very puzzling, what kind of sand is that? What filter media do you have in the drawer? Very cool aquarium by the way. 

Just for clarification, if your aquarium and water parameters are holding relatively steady and doing well, there is no need to make any changes. This is just simply to figure out what may be causing this. Adding a bit of the crushed coral would not hurt though. 

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@Isaac M thank goodness I keep all the stuff I purchase for my aquariums!! The sand is called Estes Stoney River aquarium sand which is labeled as non toxic and PH neutral. 

As for the filter media in the drawer I have a bag of Seachem matrix bio media a piece of ACO coarse filter and some filter floss to catch any fine stuff. See picture below. 

Inside the tank I have an itty bitty AquaTop sponge filter that also has some biomedia inside of it. I also use a wonder shell (1 little one) inside the tank and add a new one when its gone. 

as for the crushed coral. Would I add it to this filter area next to the biomedia bag so it does not dissolve too fast? 

5 gallon filter area 20210529_103804.jpg

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@Sandra the fish rookie ok, well to be honest, I have no idea what is causing your kh to drop. The only thing I can think of is your tap water when you started the aquarium had a lower kh or you went a while without a water change during cycling and that lowered it. But it should be going up with each water change if those were the case. 

Yeah I think you could sprinkle in a 1/4 lb to 1/2 lb of crushed coral there. The kh increase should be gradual so if it is not having the intended effect you want, you can just remove some or add some. 

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@Sandra the fish rookie if you bought the aquarium co-op crushed coral, it comes in a 1 lb bag so you can probably just sort it visually. For instance, 4 equal sized portions will each be a 1/4 pound. The drawer looks almost like a little sump to me so I would just put it inside the drawer almost like substrate for the drawer. But a media bag would help if you ever wanted to pull it all out quickly. It is up to you. 

I believe you already do a weekly water change so I would say no, you do not need to do a water change more often. The crushed coral will be helping. 

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@Isaac M yes I got the ACO coral! Thank you so much! I will add the crushed coral today. I will test my KH/PH before just to have a baseline. how long does it typically take for he parameters to change? My water is REALLY hard, so do I still need to also have the wonder shell in there as well as the coral?

Oh, do I need to rinse the coral before I add it?

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@Sandra the fish rookie well that is a tough question to answer haha crushed coral will dissolve differently depending on your current water parameters (the higher the ph & kh, the slower it will dissolve) . Given that your ph is 7, I would say it will take a few weeks but it is hard to say. I would rinse it a little but just to get any dust off of it. 

Yeah with a gh of 14, I would not use a wonder shell. The coral will also slightly add to the hardness. 

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