Re: seachem discuss buffer
There may be some confusion as to what type of buffering system you currently have and what type you are trying to achieve. There are 2 types of buffering systems relied on in freshwater systems: 1) bicarbonate based buffering systems referred to as KH (KH is a type of alkalinity) and 2) phosphate based buffering systems (these phosphate based buffers will build phosphate based alkalinity). Of the 2, phosphate based buffering systems, achieved with products like our Discus Buffer and Neutral Regulator, tend to be more stable in the long run as they are not as easily influenced by acids. They also have the added benefit of softening water by precipitating calcium and magnesium (measured as GH) out of solution which is great for discus as they prefer soft water. Those are some reasons why phosphate based buffers have been used for many years in this hobby and are often preferred.
You mentioned that your water tested at a KH of 60 mg/l. After using Discus Buffer in an aquarium or in make up water, your alkalinity will increase as you are adding a phosphate based buffer in essence building phosphate based alkalinity. Since you are increasing alkalinity, this should show as an increase on your KH test kit. Keep in mind that KH test kits can not distinguish between the different types of alkalinity......so you can not determine how much of your alkalinity is KH and how much is phosphate with a conventional KH test kit. The blend of phosphate based salts in Discus Buffer has a pK of around 5.0. PK is a term used to represent where the resulting pH of a buffering system will be it's strongest. For example, our Neutral Regulator is a phosphate based buffer that has a pK of 7.0, so it preferentially buffers at a pH of 7.0. Given this, the more you use Discus Buffer the more you will increase your alkalinity with a buffer that brings your pH down with each use (it will take multiple doses of this buffer to eventually get to 5.0). Using Neutral Regulator and Discus Buffer together can help in tailoring your aquarium's buffering system to your specific needs in adjusting pH anywhere between 5.0 - 7.0.
In order to set up a phosphate based buffering system in an aquarium that already has a built in KH based buffering system from source water like yours does, you will need to either 1) use enough phosphate based buffer to out compete your existing KH based buffering system. Keep in mind that it could take more than 1 dose of a phosphate based buffer to achieve your desired pH in the situation of out competing an existing KH. Or 2) use an acid like our Acid Buffer to dissolve your KH first. Our Acid Buffer dissolves KH converting into CO2 and will gas off. Once your KH is removed (gassed off), you can easily set up a phosphate based buffer.
Regarding your specific questions;
- This product is not harmful. In fact it is very helpful in maintaining pH as it is a very stable pH buffer and also has the added benefit of softening water.
- This product will not affect KH alkalinity, in fact it will increase phosphate based alkalinity.
- Affected parameters are lowered pH, increased phosphate based alkalinity and softened water (lowered GH).
- If you opt for a KH based buffering system, which is preferred in FW planted aquariums, I suggest using our Alkaline Buffer and Acid Buffer to help establish and adjust KH and pH as needed.
Hope this helps! If you need any further explanation or clarification, please respond in kind. You can also send me a PM or call toll free, 888-SEACHEM, at your convenience 9 - 5 EST.