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Hi Hunterpehrson

Welcome to APN/HQ

To answer your Q on alkalinity, I find it easier to point you towards a  thread/post and a APN article  where the complexity are pretty well explained IMO




Here are the most common scenarios you will encounter that require adjustments:

Declining pH
- Generally speaking, you will want to maintain your cycled system pH around 6.8-7.2. If it falls below this range, the nitrifying bacteria will be adversely impacted. You need to add a base. There are commercially available products for this, but you can also use relatively common chemical salts like sodium bicarbonate, calcium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, calcium hydroxide, calcium chloride and many others. Specific recommendations are beyond the scope of this article, but will be featured in a later article related to maintaining pH levels.......................
cut/paste from this article : 
I recommend you read all the answers in the post and the full article 
Edit: I'll add this link here as well:
Edited by ande (see edit history)

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