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KH and GH in English please??

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KH and GH in English please??

Post by JanesAddiction on Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:28 am

I started a "Fish Journal" (not exactly a journal just a place to keep all info such as min. requirements and what is in what tank as well as a place to keep track of wc, test results, and plant fert. doses) Anyway, KH came up...I have the test for GH and KH however, I am confused about it...not the test itself but understanding in English (not layman's terms) what KH and GH all mean...this is what I found...but I am still confused...
"The carbonate hardness scale is based on the concentration of carbonate and bicarbonate and is a reflection of the buffering capacity of the water. Water with a high buffering capacity resists changes in pH either up or down, resulting in very stable water conditions. This is obviously a good thing, and is essential for the maintenance of many species of fish that cannot tolerate even small pH changes, such as Tanganyikan cichlids. Excessively low carbonate hardness levels are not appreciated by aquarium plants, either, especially not those species that extract some of the carbon used for photosynthesis from the carbonate and bicarbonate salts in the water." and "Carbonate hardness is due to carbonate/bicarbonate ions, and represents the main 'buffering capacity' of the water, i.e. its ability to resist pH changes. KH and pH are therefore inter-related: if KH is high, the pH will be very stable (and difficult to alter), if KH is low (e.g. less than 3 degrees KH) then the pH will be less stable." which to me basically means the higher the KH the more stable the Ph is...am I still confused?? lol
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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by Shell on Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:48 am

Good question - and I too look forward to hearing member's responses! I never worried too much about these things, until our loaches started showing odd, unidentifiable, symptoms, and then one by one, passing away. 


Through my research, my understanding (anyone feel free to correct me if I am wrong) is that KH helps to buffer, I.e. Keeps ph from crashing. Thus, a lower KH, say 3d, is not favourable. I still, however, have no clue what the optimum range would be for KH, from what I have found, 7 or so is good, and I think it is a good predictor of ph in some way.....so confusing! I am also not sure about how important these numbers really are as long as they are not super low.  GH seems easier in that it seems to basically refer to the hardness/softness of water, which is good to know when planning to keep fish that absolutely thrive better in one or the other.



Hope to hear more comments on this!

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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by JanesAddiction on Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:59 am

I fully agree with you @Shell on the lower the KH the lower the pH will be...
I used liveaquaria to get my requirements info and this is what they recommend for Clown Loach (couldn't remember what you had exactly) QUICK STATS
Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Water Conditions: 72-86° F, KH 8-12, pH 6.0-7.5
Max. Size: 1'
Color Form: Black, Orange, Red, Tan
Diet: Omnivore
Origin: Indonesia
Family: Cobitidae
I also have come to the conclusion that KH is a big thing for aquatic plants...I think lol
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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by CAAIndie on Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:30 am

I've got more to write on GH, but her is my short explanation of KH

KH is also referred to as carbonate hardness, basically it is a measure of bicarbonate and carbonates in the water. As Shell mentioned, KH relates to the buffering capacity of the water. What I mean by buffering capacity is that it prevents the water's pH from shifting easily.  For instance, if you had water with a pH of 8 (anything above 7 is basic) and a high buffering capacity, you could add acid (something with pH below 7) and the pH would drop. However after a short period of time the buffering capacity of the water would push the pH back to what is was (for our example that was 8 ). You can repeat that a large number of times with water that has a high buffering capacity (which is just one of the many reasons that the products marketed to "adjust" pH are not a good idea). Secondly, after enough acid is added to the water, the buffering capacity will be spent and you are left with water that is extremely prone to swings in pH (basically losing its stability). The higher the KH, the more acid it can buffer. KH is measured in either in parts per million (ppm) or in degrees (approximate 17.8 ppm per degree).

GH is also known as general hardness. It measures the many more minerals than KH, including calcium, magnesium, chloride, sodium, potassium and lots of others. It doesn't tell you how much of each you have, but rather a measure of then all together. GH is a valuable measure, as many of these minerals are important for the osomoregulation of fish! Large shifts in either direction, especially quickly, can cause serious issues for fish. Similar to what has been mentioned before, fish have different preferences to GH conditions depending on what their natural environment is and what environment they have been raised in.

You are also correct that hardness is roughly related to pH. If water very hard, you will likely have a pH that is basic, if water is soft, you are much more likely to have a pH that is acidic.

Every fish and plant will have different requirements for hardness. If plants come from environments that have high hardness, they are likely to prefer that, and vice versa with those that grow in soft water. The tolerance for hardness with vary greatly from plant to plant and fish to fish. However, many fish and plants are adaptable to a fairly large range of hardnesses, so stability is usually key.

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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by GaryE on Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:43 am

Nerd alert, nerd alert.
I'll add why it matters.
The biggest problem a fish has is keeping water out. It's the wrinkled fingers in the bathtub effect. So a fish has a large proportion of its internal organs dedicated to osmoregulation (keeping the water/fish balance).
A fish from the Amazon has evolved with next to no minerals in the water. Their water is soft, and low in KH and GH. Time we can barely imagine has tuned those bodies to their environment, and fish that don't have the ability to thrive in low mineral conditions (low GH/KH) don't survive.
Flip it, and high mineral fishtanks will kill some species, stress all Amazonian species and kill the eggs and sperm of most. The difficulties their bodies have adjusting shorten their lives and dull their colours.

Mexico has a lot of coastal regions that are ancient sea floor, complete with powdery dust and limestone everywhere. Limestone raises the hardness, and fish from that region (a lot of our livebearers and your firemouth) have an easier time keeping water balances as the minerals make it easier. They are hard water fish. Put them in soft water, and they will develop skin infections, become listless, start to swim in one place as their kidneys fail, etc. It's like dropping me on top of a high mountain and expecting my lowland lungs to handle the thin air. I might even die.

Once you get past compatible behavior in planning a fishtank, you have to start thinking about compatible evolution. It is really worth it to analyze where fish come from, and try to keep the extremes in water needs apart. I live in a region where my tapwater has a reasonably stable KH but is very very soft. It is easy to make water harder, and difficult and expensive to soften it (water softeners as sold for drinking water don't work for fishtanks. They exchange minerals for salts.) So I have been drifting away from hard water livebearers and going to softwater killies from West Africa. If I lived an hour south of here, I would probably choose hardwater killie species from East Africa.

I don't know about you, but if you pack me up and drop me in a super hot and humid environment, I'll be battling to do ordinary things. My northern body likes cool breezes and does not sleep in humidity. Eventually, since we aren't a specialized species, I'll adapt and get used to it, but I will pine for a cool day. I figure that's how a fish working its kidneys twice as hard as its ancestors ever did because the fishtank water is wrong for it must feel. I had a student once who left Rio de janeiro in a 45 degree heatwave and got off the plane in Montreal at -35 and windy. He looked haunted by the experience - visibly upset at that happened to his Brazilian body in a Canadian winter. We can do that to ourselves by choice, but our fish deserve better.
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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by alexmtl on Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:46 am

Excellent source responses from GaryE and Indie. In most cases don't worry about it as the basic fish store fish will be acclimated at some point. Except wild caught and non fish farm fish, for example loaches and exotic catfish. If you want to breed or maintain for a long time then these parameters make a huge difference. In the soft water conditions in Montreal (relatively speaking) it is a challenge to keep limit and hard water poeciliads. Even if you follow a recipe I am challenged to have consistent conditions in my home brewed water.
Right now I'm at the point that certain livebearers (wild type) will be better here and I think I have the list down to a predictable outcome. With the time constraints that I have I would rather have the fish suit my water conditions rather than put the time into exacting efforts to ensure the water hardness.
GH, KH and dissolved solids make a difference at some point but no scientific data will point to your answer. The best is the experience from other aquarists.
If you have Africans, hardness is critical. Maybe your water is well suited. Excellent question as each aquarists success is dependendt upon their base conditions.
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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by Sbenson11 on Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:56 pm

For the type of fish I keep KH/GH is only an issue if you don't have any and my water has none and I mean zero. I can't even measure it it is so low. As a result if left unchecked my PH can swing wildly throughout the day. I have said many times that it really doesn't mater to much what your PH is as long as it's stable. That is the problem with my water it is not stable, which can be very bad for my fish. So I have to add Baking Soda to my water regularly to raise the alkalinity of my water.

I converse regularly with koi enthusiasts around the world sharing information and one of the places that I have found very helpful is Hanover Koi farm. He has some great write ups on water, etc. This is a very good article that might be worth a read, even if you skip down to part two about KH and PH.

http://jnfkoifarms.com/thescienceofwater.html

Steve
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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by alexmtl on Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:23 am

Sbenson11 wrote:For the type of fish I keep KH/GH is only an issue if you don't have any and my water has none and I mean zero. I can't even measure it it is so low. As a result if left unchecked my PH can swing wildly throughout the day. I have said many times that it really doesn't mater to much what your PH is as long as it's stable. That is the problem with my water it is not stable, which can be very bad for my fish. So I have to add Baking Soda to my water regularly to raise the alkalinity of my water.

I converse regularly with koi enthusiasts around the world sharing information and one of the places that I have found very helpful is Hanover Koi farm. He has some great write ups on water, etc. This is a very good article that might be worth a read, even if you skip down to part two about KH and PH.

http://jnfkoifarms.com/thescienceofwater.html

Steve

Excellent point King Koi

Steve has no KH nor GH readings which means that his base water source is most likely ion exchange filtration which is something most of us may not face. When he adds backing soda, ie sodium bicarbonate he is increasing GHKH which adds a buffer to the water in order to stabilize the pH. From the perspective of preserving the pH balance you need the alkalinity. Buffer is important to provide the electron pool to raise and maintain pH.

Here in Montreal we have a filtration system which keeps the water fairly stable.
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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by Aquaman_95 on Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:42 pm

This comes straight from PetSmart's "Pet Parent, Aquarium Water Analysis" that we give out to customers frequently.

pH "This is the measure of the activity (power) of the Hydrogen ions in the water (acid/base balance). Acidic water has a pH of below 7.0, basic water has a pH above 7.0, and neutral water has a pH of 7.0. PetSmart does not recommend modifying the pH of freshwater systems unless the value becomes extreme (less that 6.0 or above 8.5). Most freshwater fish are highly adaptable to their current water conditions. Rapid changes in pH are most detrimental to fish, and it is very important that your aquarium has a stable pH. The stability of the pH is related to water Alkalinity, and Hardness. If you have extremes of pH, or rapid fluctuations, use an aquarium buffering product to help stabilize your pH."

Hardness (GH) "Hardness is the measurement of metallic positive ions (e.g., Calcium, Magnesium) in the water. Water with high hardness usually also has a high pH. Softening the water will lower the pH. Hardness in aquariums is best at 100-200mg/L, but some fish such as discus prefer softer water. African cichlids prefer hard water. Most fish will adapt to existing hardness as long as it is not to extreme a change from their current aquarium water."

Alkalinity "Alkalinity is a measurement of the negative ions (e.g., Hydroxide, Carbonate, Bicarbonate) in the water that buffer against pH shifts. As the alkalinity falls, the water in an aquarium may experience sudden, and deadly pH shifts. If this happens in your aquarium you can increase the buffering capacity of the water to stabilize the pH by adding buffering products to your tank."
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Re: KH and GH in English please??

Post by JanesAddiction on Thu Jun 18, 2015 5:23 am

Awesome answers and info EVERYONE!!! I kept quiet just reading and allowing the responses to come in and processing them all. They are all full of awesome info!! Thank you so much!!! If anyone else has anything to add...please do!!!
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