Killer kH WARNING: Your fish, plants and invertebrates may be dying!

Sydney tap water seems to have a reduced level of Carbonate Hardness (kH) compared with one year ago. Recent kH tests of Sydney tap water show levels as low as 0-20ppm. This is a concern, as to keep a happy freshwater aquarium you need a minimum kH level of 40-60ppm and 200ppm for marine aquariums.

kH is important to all biological processes and is also essential to the break-down of nitrogen by bacteria, which cannot occur without the presence of carbonate. It also acts as a stabiliser and buffer to pH.

Below is a list of some of the low kH fallout:

Dead yabbies

Many people are finding that their yabbies which have been happy family pets for years are dying, generally after a water change or while they are trying to shed their skeleton. This can be attributed to low water kH.

Sick turtles

A higher than usual number of customers are reporting that their turtles are developing bacterial infections and shell abnormalities, which can also be traced to the fact that their kH level is too low.

Aquatic plants

If you are replacing your aquatic plants every few months, chances are you are not caring for them properly. Even if your fish nibble on your plants it is still worth the effort to ensure that they are healthy. Aquatic plants should thrive in an aquarium providing that they have adequate light, fertilizer, CO2 and a suitable level of kH. To keep healthy aquatic plants, you need to be aware of the kH level of your water and never let it reach levels as low as 20ppm, as plants need carbonate to live.

Increasingly in the Sydney area, due to the low kH level of the tap water, kH is becoming a more important test to perform than a pH test. Of course you should perform both! Though some people believe that the kH level will be right if the pH level is right, this is myth. While Sydney tap water has a pH of 7-8 which is high but tolerable for most fish, kH levels are quite low. You really do need to test both.

Another myth is that maintaining adequate kH levels is only necessary in order to stabilise pH levels. The truth is that carbonate has many other important functions. It is involved in the metabolic and respiratory processes of both fish and plants and assists in osmo-regulation.

Chances are that if you don’t test kH, then it will not be at the right level for your aquarium and you are risking the health and well-being of your aquatic pets.

Low kH is a killer and it affects everyone. Take action now!