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Liquid Rock Or Faulty Water Hardness Readings?


Miranda Marie
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I've been really trying to dial in plant nutrients the last six months or so, and the one aspect that keeps confusing me is water hardness. My plants routinely show signs of Calcium Deficiency, and their growth is almost always stunted despite dosing Easy Green 2x a week. My KH was low so I have added crushed coral to the substrate a few months ago, which has brought it up a little. 

The odd part is that my water hardness reads as *insanely high*, yet my pH and KH always read as moderate or low, even with crushed coral and occasional wondershell.

Any idea if this is a true result or a faulty read?

Here's some tests taken over the last 6 months:

 

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One reason why you might have high GH but calcium deficiencies is because GH measures both Magnesium and Calcium ions. So your water might have lots of Magnesium but not much calcium. 

To give some more insight for KH and pH, could you tell us:

1) Are you injecting CO2 into the aquarium? 

2) How often are you changing water in your aquarium and how much do you change at a time? 

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On 10/6/2022 at 5:00 PM, AnimalNerd98 said:

One reason why you might have high GH but calcium deficiencies is because GH measures both Magnesium and Calcium ions. So your water might have lots of Magnesium but not much calcium. 

To give some more insight for KH and pH, could you tell us:

1) Are you injecting CO2 into the aquarium? 

2) How often are you changing water in your aquarium and how much do you change at a time? 

No CO2 injection, and water changes once every two weeks, which is more for my own peace of mind than anything. Getting my nitrates up enough the plants don't show major nitrogen deficiency is hard, so it doesn't need them for that issue. (I have to dose 3 pumps of Easy Green 2x a week at the very least to get the nitrates up to the 20ppm for the plants. Without dosing it rarely gets to 5ppm.)

I change 30% each time and it is a 20g tank.

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On 10/7/2022 at 6:52 AM, Tanked said:

Most likely liquid rock.  My water tests are the same as yours. 

As an experiment, I began cutting a large water sample with equal amounts of bottled RO water.  On the third cut the water tested below 300ppm.

 

On 10/7/2022 at 7:37 AM, flyingcow said:

I can tell you in my tank, it's an error with the strips. I have 7 degrees GH (~100 ppm), that I make up by remineralizing RO. Tetra strips, and API GH test kit both agree across multiple tests. The ACO strips always turn pink. 

It sounds like it could be a toss up then. I suppose I'll have to get a different kind of test and see which it is in my aquarium then! XD

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On 10/7/2022 at 12:00 PM, Miranda Marie said:

 

It sounds like it could be a toss up then. I suppose I'll have to get a different kind of test and see which it is in my aquarium then! XD

yeah, it's one of the things that's tough in fishkeeping. None of the test kits are that great. For GH/KH, I prefer the API stuff since it's a pretty simple titration, so it's likely to work reasonably well, but their nitrite test is a bear.

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On 10/7/2022 at 10:06 AM, flyingcow said:

yeah, it's one of the things that's tough in fishkeeping. None of the test kits are that great. For GH/KH, I prefer the API stuff since it's a pretty simple titration, so it's likely to work reasonably well, but their nitrite test is a bear.

Yeah, I'm not really interested in using API for the other types of things. I have in the past and the amount of effort wasn't worth it when the ACO strips are just as accurate for everything else for me. The only thing I never did with the API test is ironically the GH, and I no longer have the kit to try it out and see. So I'll either need to pick up the GH specific test or figure something else out.

Honestly it wouldn't bother me except that I am still struggling to get solid plant growth after 3 years of constant effort. The plants do...okay. *tilts hand* But they're always stunted, show frequent signs of Calcium and nitrate deficiencies no matter how much Wondershell and Easy Green I add, and I'm honestly kinda stumped. For example, I got some Val in, in May (from ACO), and now in October, it's barely added on 5 leaves. I give it root tabs and fertilize with Easy Green regularly but it's always showing signs of nitrogen deficiency even when the nitrates sit at 25ppms most of the time, and the leaves immediately start twisting and looking deformed if I don't keep up with Wondershell.

I thought maybe the test was faulty and my water is actually really soft, and I maybe needed to use something mineralize it, but I live on a private well, so that always seemed unlikely. I've been leaning towards Magnesium heavy but Calcium poor and that's starting to seem most likely now.

So back to the drawing board on how to get my plants to flourish.

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On 10/7/2022 at 12:06 PM, flyingcow said:

yeah, it's one of the things that's tough in fishkeeping. None of the test kits are that great. For GH/KH, I prefer the API stuff since it's a pretty simple titration, so it's likely to work reasonably well, but their nitrite test is a bear.

Yeah I also found that the nitrite test exaggerates the level of nitrite in the tank indicating 3-5 when it was really 0.25 in api liquid test, similar thing happens with nitrate as well.

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On 10/7/2022 at 12:15 PM, Stroy15 said:

Yeah I also found that the nitrite test exaggerates the level of nitrite in the tank indicating 3-5 when it was really 0.25 in api liquid test, similar thing happens with nitrate as well.

if you're seeing that disparate of a result, you should try a third test. Don't assume the api kit is correct just because it's liquid. In my case, I can make 2 of 3 agree consistently.

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Quick question....you say that your home is getting its water from a well....do you use the water straight out of tap? If yes...then, when was the last time you checked its parameters..and I'm talking about the magnesium and calcium. I ask because many houses with well water supply use whole house filters that incorporate water softeners in them...these softeners remove harmful calcium and magnesium (harmful to your plumbing that is).......if your softener medium is at its end of life, you could be correct in thinking the magnesium is your culprit, as your softener unit is no longer removing them.

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On 10/7/2022 at 10:27 AM, Angelo V said:

Quick question....you say that your home is getting its water from a well....do you use the water straight out of tap? If yes...then, when was the last time you checked its parameters..and I'm talking about the magnesium and calcium. I ask because many houses with well water supply use whole house filters that incorporate water softeners in them...these softeners remove harmful calcium and magnesium (harmful to your plumbing that is).......if your softener medium is at its end of life, you could be correct in thinking the magnesium is your culprit, as your softener unit is no longer removing them.

Our house doesn't have any kind of softener unit. We get the well tested bi-yearly by a water testing company, and their results have always said we don't need one. (They always tell us we have the best water they've ever tested, and we're a bit spoiled because it really does taste amazing.) I wish I had access to their results, but I never thought to ask for specifics.

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On 10/7/2022 at 12:41 PM, Miranda Marie said:

Our house doesn't have any kind of softener unit. We get the well tested bi-yearly by a water testing company, and their results have always said we don't need one. (They always tell us we have the best water they've ever tested, and we're a bit spoiled because it really does taste amazing.) I wish I had access to their results, but I never thought to ask for specifics.

Oh you should be able to ask for the results. I get a full detailed report with my well test. They probably store the data, so you could call them.

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Agreed flyingcow, Miranda you should definitely be able to get those results and....just a reminder tastes good does not equate to is good....ask any scientist how good diet coke is for you....but dam it sure tastes good! Kidding aside check your water source and my moto is and always will be small steps ... never do anything in a big way when it comes to making changes in your tank....stability, is key. Even if things aren't perfect in your tank and as long as your not killing lots of fish or all your plants are fading, a slow steady road to correction is always the route.

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On 10/7/2022 at 2:38 PM, Angelo V said:

Agreed flyingcow, Miranda you should definitely be able to get those results and....just a reminder tastes good does not equate to is good....ask any scientist how good diet coke is for you....but dam it sure tastes good! Kidding aside check your water source and my moto is and always will be small steps ... never do anything in a big way when it comes to making changes in your tank....stability, is key. Even if things aren't perfect in your tank and as long as your not killing lots of fish or all your plants are fading, a slow steady road to correction is always the route.

Sounds good! I know taste doesn't always equal good, but the report they give is always, "Your water is excellent. You shouldn't need to do any kind of treatment." I'll definitely see if I can get the results from them!

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