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I have read that alkalinity is hardness but my buddy who is in the hobby for 2yrs now states they are different. I showed him some websites stating that they are the same but he still disagrees. Am I wrong? The required range are similar!! My hardness is at 9 (within parameter) My only concern is are they the same??
 

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There are multilple ways of measuring alkalinty. One way is dKH (degrees of Carbonate Hardness). This measures only the Carbonate Hardness (alk) of the water where a general hardness test would measure other stuff as well.

Another measurement for alk is meq/L This measurement would give you numbers in the 2.5-3.5 range.
 
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