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Grimace

Bicarb & Epsom Salts, school the noob!

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Hi everyone,

Trying to get my head around the effects of PH GH & KH and rift lake mixes.

Ok so I understand there is heaps of links throughout the Internet for rift lake recipes but all of them are different. Some more complex then other etc etc.

As a noob I have taken in some info, disregarded other info and have done my own test. I am posting this in order to learn and obtain advice from those more knowledgeable and perhaps help other novice aquarium enthusiast feel more comfortable and prepared to do the same.

Why have I decided to make my own mix?

Mainly cost, although not mixing or adding anything previously is cheaper again. So hence the second reason is due to the water conditions in my tank not being optimal or to a standard I feel my Malawi Cichlids deserve. While on the topic the current readings for Ph and hardness is my tank are as follows;

PH 8.2

GH 120mg/l

KH 70mg/l

What products did I choose for my initial tests?

I have a Bag of pool salt (sunray brand) that I purchased from Bunnings at $7.

1kg of bi-carb soda (McKenzies brand) $3

1kg of Epsom Salts (no brand visible) $8

I am unsure of the actual cost of the bicarb and the Epsom salts as I had my partner do the shopping and I lost the receipt, but they were around that amount.

I choose to only utilise these three products because as a novice, I wanted to keep this as simple process as possible. Over time I may change the ingredients whether it be due to my own knowledge increasing or a recommendation from a trusted source. I wont change the recipe if someone simply says "pool salt is bad you shouldn't use it" or "my brothers girlfriends uncles first year apprentice said..."

Ok so first of all I started by collecting a 20L sample of my tap water, I aerated it with a mild dose of prime and let it sit for over 24 hours. The results of testing my tap water are as follows;

Ph 7.6 - 7.7

GH 50-60mg/l

KH 50mg/l

What do I know about these figures?

I know that the PH, while high for tap water, is still a bit low for my tank inhabitants.

I know that the water is relatively soft.

What don't I know about these figures?

I don't yet know how concerned I should be, if at all.

I don't yet know the correct conversion for the GH and KH scale to get these amount in degrees.

I don't know how accurate they are as I am only using one master test kit to obtain them and its accuracy is unknown.

Anything else I don't know is simply cause I have not learnt or been told as yet. Beyond that there is probably thousands of over things I do not know about tap water that is completely irrelevant.

Ok moving on I have now created a second 20L batch of tap water and primed and aerated it for just 12 hours, but I also added the following;

1 tsp Bicarb

3 tsp Epsom salts

1 tsp pool salt

I tested this mixture this morning and I now have the following figures;

PH 8.6

GH 340mg/l

KH 140mg/l

What do I know about these figures?

I know that they have increased dramatically from my plain water sample.

I know that the water would now be considered hard.

I also believe the PH is at the higher end of the scale that my Malawi cichlids would prefer.

What don't I know about these figures?

I don't know if they are too high.

I don't know if there is any concerns with slowly altering my tank water with water changes utilising this mix.

I still don't know all the other thousand of things about tap water the may or may not be relevant.

So that's is where I am at as of this morning. I look forward to any opinions or advice in regards to what I am doing that may or may not be correct.

I will update this thread with my mixture results as we go along. I am always willing to learn, but unfortunately I am a physical learner so all the reading in the world generally doesn't help me. Hence I have to do it to really understand it. So I do apologise if this is frustrating for some who feel that all the information I need is floating out there in the online world.

I do have another 20l batch currently awaiting testing but this time I have reduced the Epsom salt teaspoons from three to two. Why did I do this? I have no idea, curious I guess? Or perhaps I am just being tight and trying to minimise the materials used to stretch out or simplify the mixture... I don't know, but it's done and I will report the results and appreciate any discussion regarding the two mixes.

Anyway I have a busy day today (working on 4wd) but thank all in advance for their input and I hope this helps me and others in the future. I already feel more comfortable with what I am doing simply by making this very post alone, so fingers crossed it works as intended.

Cheers

Grimace

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I'm in a rush this morning so I'll keep this brief - make any changes to water chemistry in your tank slowly. In Nth QLD where I am there is virtually no hardness in the water. I run shell grit which dissolves and needs replenishing on a regular basis. I add one large heaped tablespoon of bicarb per 200L when doing a waterchange - by that I mean when adding 200L of new water per tank. Espom salts for treating constipation you only need a couple of teaspoons in similar water volume. As you like practical results how about doing a controlled batch. Pool salt in one, bi-carb in one and Epsom in one (bucket). With those results you'll have your answers and will see which of the three is actually changing the water most significantly and which is not changing it at all (as far as those tests go). ;-)

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Good idea. I might go a teaspoon of each bicarbonate and magnesium sulfate both with a teaspoon of pool salt next.

And as you say I'll be doing only small 40l water changes to a 800+ litre system. So the changes in chemistry over time will be slow.

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Doing the first change tomorrow. Then the next will be on Wednesday with hopefully a more refined batch with more knowledge on my side :)

Thanks for the input it is appreciated.

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Hi everyone,

readings for Ph and hardness is my tank are as follows;

PH 8.2

GH 120mg/l

KH 70mg/l

The results of testing my tap water are as follows;

Ph 7.6 - 7.7

GH 50-60mg/l

KH 50mg/l

Grimace

The above figures show that your tank is buffering the water. That is a result of your substrate and possibly filter media (depending on what type you use). Your pH is good - you don't want it any higher than that. Pool salt will not effect the results in your testing. Personally I would not be buffering the water when you do a 40l waterchange on an 800l tank. The results you have posted show that your tank is doing a good job of buffering the water already. The small fluctuation in your tap water to your tank water will be nuetralised by the sheer volume of water. Pool salt is great but it does not play a part in the results of these particular tests. All the best!

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Sorry I should state that I had previously added a hardenss generator to the tank but do not wish to use such products. I can't recall the water properties prior to this but I do recall the KH being extremely low.

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Thanks Donny, that helps a lot.

I currently have three separate test samples as suggest. Two with a single teaspoon of one product only. The third is just plain tap water, as I would like to confirm the water properties are consistent with my tap water and have a controlled sample.

I also have a spanner to throw into the works for my particular scenario. I completely forgot I also have tank water available. The tank was initially filled with tank water for the cycle process, then we ran out and it had not rained so its been getting tap water changes ever since. But after last week I believe the tank is now full! So testing will be required on my tank water as well. Arghhh going to need more buckets.

The second test sample gave me odd results and has me curious as to the reliability of my test kit.

Second test sample of 1 tsp Bicarb, 2 tsp Epsom salt, 1 tsp Pool salt returned the following;

PH 8.7 (which is higher then the previous test sample?)

GH 220mg/l (which shows that the epsom salts is making the greatest difference to the GH, which is consistent with your post in the link you provided Donny, thank you)

KH 130mg/l (about the same, as previously was 140mg/l)

also confirming mg/l is the same as ppm right?

Further to this i am concerned about my test kit as it has return 0 reading for Ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate? I am not sure if that is even possible? But trying no to get too off track with other water properties just yet lol.

Edited by Grimace

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Ok have results from single teaspoons to 10L of my tap water and already I am seeing inconsistency with my supply.

The three samples gave the following results

Tap water / Tsp Epsom / Tsp Bicarb

PH 8 / 8 / 9+

GH 60 / 180 / 60

KH 40 / 40 / 160

So it seems there is no correlation between the amounts used and the increase between all three test that I have done .I think I need to replace my master test kit :rant:

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