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So I'm a little lost regarding water chemistry. I have 180 gallon tank and use an RO/DI unit to make water for water changes and auto top off. I have over 100lbs of holey rock and at least 100lbs of zack black eco complete sand. I use seachem Cichlid salt and Malawi buffet. I keep my PH at 8.4 and have never really tested water hardness or alkalinity. I've never had a problem with the PH. However, I bought a pinpoint water hardness meter and the results came back rather startling. My main tank showed 2,200 microsiemen which converts to a DH of 66. Which is way too high according to recommendations for a Malawi setup. I then looked at my RO water and after adding salt to get to roughly 500 microsiemen or 15dh. The PH was roughly 7.8. I added Malawi buffer to get to a ph of 8.4 and my microsiemen went up to 1312 or 40dh. Can anyone offer insight on what I'm doing wrong? Or how I can increase the ph but not the DH?
 

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The rift lakes water hardness and alkalinity both come from calcium carbonate and to a lesser extent magnesium carbonate. Once dissolved in water the calcium/magnesium portion increases hardness (GH) and the carbonate portion of the molecule increases alkalinity (KH).

Seachem Cichlid Salt contains calcium & magnesium salts (no carbonate) and so will increase water GH, Malawi Buffer contains carbonate compounds which increase KH. You should decrease the Cichlid Salt you're using in order to lower your water's GH, while maintaining the amount of Malawi Buffer which brought your water to pH 8.4.
 

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Hey Durwinkle, First post here on the forum for me. I am looking at setting up a large cichlid tank after a 10 year hiatus from the hobby so I've been watching a LOT of "mistakes" videos on YouTube. I've been watching Bulk Reef Supply videos because they are absolutely excellent at explaining what's really going on. I stumbled into a BRSTV "PH Mistakes" video that was extremely helpful in understanding PH. It's long at about 30-40 minutes if memory serves, but really explained some ways to adjust your PH without GH and KH, but moreover they explained why you probably don't need to. Now, this is a reef-specific video, but the concepts still apply, and i'd give it a watch. Good luck!
 
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