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Water Parameters & how to get there

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  • Water Parameters & how to get there

    Hi There!

    I've been a big believer in SeaChem products for a long time, and have had great results with many of your products - thank you very much and keep up the good work!

    I recently re-located to a new area where the city water is horrible, so I went and purchased a new RO/DI unit to produce my own water. However, for some reason I am having a real hard time dialing in the right combination of GH/KH/pH ... I am sure it is something I am doing wrong (obviously), and I have spent hours searching your forums and see that lots of other people have similar issues. So my post is really just aimed at making sure I have the correct understanding of what I should be doing.

    - Aquarium inhabitants = turtles (Red Eared Sliders, to be precise)! They like slightly hard water, with a slightly high pH
    - 60 gal setup (main tank + refugium) with large amount of Hornwort in the refugium (turtles are very dirty, so my goal is to use the hornwort as a simple nutrient sponge, and when it grows too big I just cut off a chunk and feed it to the turtles ... it has to be in a refugium because in the main tank the turtle will over-graze it and never let it grow)
    - I have a pressurized CO2 injection system using a diffuser in the refugium in an effort to keep the Hornwort growing fast (I have been struggling to get it to grow). I am using a pH controller that shuts off the solenoid on the CO2 tank whenever the pH drops below 7
    - RO/DI water that has basically 0 GH and 0 KH at the outlet. Initial pH from the unit is around 8
    - I make my water in batches of 60 gal at a time (I'm using a big plastic garbage can!)
    - I change 20 gal of water every week

    I am using Equilibrium to restore GH and add the minerals needed buy the Hornwort
    I am using both Alkaline Buffer and Acid Buffer to restore KH and maintain pH of 7
    I am using Stability to maintain my biological filter
    I also use Purigen in the outlet of the refugium to maintain water quality (again, turtles are very messy)

    Based on what I've read, here is what I think I need to dose in each batch of new RO/DI water (60 gal)
    - 9 tablespoons of Equilibrium
    - 9 teaspoons of Alkaline Buffer
    - 3.5 teaspoons of Acid Buffer

    Did I get this right?

    Does this sound about the correct level of hardness, alkalinity, and pH for healthy growth in Hornwort and turtles, even with my CO2 injection?

    Would appreciate the confirmation.

    OTHER QUESTIONS: Given that I am grown plants in a refugium, I am assuming I want to avoid the Neutral Regulator to maintain my pH, correct?

  • #2
    Re: Water Parameters & how to get there

    Thanks for your questions. Let's see if I can provide you with some answers. First let me answer your last question: you are correct that Acid and Alkaline Buffers are a better choice when growing plants than Neutral Regulator.

    Hornwort is a great plant for helping clean water because it grows fast and uses excess nutrients to fuel its growth. It does also like harder water and uses some of this hardness when growing. Because of this, I think preparing the water to have a higher GH and KH can be useful. It looks like your dosage takes this into account. Since you do have CO2 with a pH controller, you might find it helpful to use less Acid Buffer and rely more on the CO2 for pH control. One word of warning about CO2 and sumps is that heavy aeration such as occurs with a trickle filter can drive the CO2 from the water leading to a higher pH. If the sump and the tank are enclosed, this effect can be lessened.

    If you are struggling to get the hornwort to grow, I would make sure you have a bright enough light on the refugium. It can be a quite hardy plant, but it is also notorious for falling apart when it is unhappy.

    Turtles can be very messy inhabitants, so excellent filtration is important. Using the Purigen in addition to the hortwort is a great way to help remove some of the organic waste. Using a high quality carbon like our Matrix Carbon may also be helpful. Additionally, having a good biomedia like Matrix or Pond Matrix can help ensure that there is plenty of capacity to handle the bioload.

    I hope this helps.


    • #3
      Re: Water Parameters & how to get there

      Thanks. Lots of good info there. I think I need to take a second look at my CO2 injection ... I had not thought about the off-gassing that the turbulent flow in the refugium will create.

      With respect to the biological filter, I am using 2 liters of Matrix in a Pentex Big Blue filter body (I place the Matrix inside a refillable media container to ensure 100% flow through the media) that is plumbed into the return line of my sump pump. I also have a 50 micron (nominal) sediment filter upstream of the Matrix to ensure that I do not plug up the media with detritus. However, my concern here is two-fold:

      a) the flow rate through the filter body is more than 400 GPH. Even though the media chamber within the filter is 4" diameter x 10" tall, that still equates to a fairly high velocity through the Matrix. Do you think this would be a problem?

      b) the filter body with the matrix is downstream of the pump. Will this cause a problem with my ability to seed the media with bacteria? I recognize that the bacteria is a great deal smaller than the clearances between the impeller and pump housing, but I am concerned that the shear stresses and pressure differential across the impeller will damage the microgoranisms I am trying to colonate in the Matrix.


      • #4
        Re: Water Parameters & how to get there

        It sounds like you have a good set up. The Matrix should be fine even in the high flow situation you have it in. De*nitrate requires a lower flow to support denitrifying bacteria, but Matrix usually works well in any flow.

        The filter body being downstream of the pump shouldn't be an issue. The beneficial bacteria should easily colonize the Matrix. If you are adding any bacterial supplement like Stability, you can pour it in near the intake for the pump to ensure that plenty of it makes it to the Matrix.