Flucuating pH killing kuhli loahes?
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:17 AM   #1
Amandas tank
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Flucuating pH killing kuhli loahes?


I have been trying to figure out why my kuhli loaches have been dying over the past several months. I think I got it... I do partial water changes weekly; Straight from tap, it's 7.2. In my tank it's 6.4. perhaps the difference in the tap pH vs the tank pH is stressing the poor things to death.
This tank is lightly planted with low light and no co2. I run bubbles at night and off during the day with a peguin powerhead blowing oxygen into the tank 24/7. There are a couple very small pieces of driftwood in the tank, especially compared to the size of the tank. I do not add anything to the tank other than water conditioner per the directions (pre-mixed in a bucket before adding to the tank).
Anyone have any thoughts on what could be causing the dramatic ph swings from tap to tank? And what do you think far as this being the cause of the kuhli loach deaths?
Thank you.
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:20 AM   #2
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It's possible, they can be sensitive. Have you checked your ph right after a water change to see how much it changes?

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Old 10-14-2012, 02:37 AM   #3
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That's so sad Poor things. I feel terrible...I have checked it right after the water change and it ranges between 6.8 and 7.1. Strange isn't it?
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Old 10-14-2012, 03:33 AM   #4
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If something in your tank is lowering the pH though, it's not a instant effect. Even a pH drop over a day or two isn't detrimental to many fish. They can handle it no problem.

Are your loaches getting enough to eat? do they have a cave or hide spot so they don't feel stressed during the day? Kuhli's are active at night and like to hide during the day. Giving them a cave or something to hide in makes them happy.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:30 AM   #5
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The kuhlis have an entire half of the tank set up with caves, tunnels and overhangs just for them. They get plenty to eat most definetely. They are thick, colorful, healthy looking buggers too. Beautiful. The last survivors are active every morning, after each water change and every evening. When the rest of the clan was still alive, we'd see them all the time. Miss that.
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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Run these tests:

1) pH, GH, KH and TDS of tap water right out of the tap.
2) pH of tap water that has sat out overnight, 24 hours, then 48 hours.
3) pH, GH, KH and TDS of tank in AM right before lights on, or within a few minutes of lights on.
4) pH of tank in the late afternoon, after the lights have been on pretty much all day.
5) pH, GH, KH and TDS of the tank right before a water change.
6) pH, GH, KH and TDS of the tank right after a water change, then at 24 hours and 48 hours.
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There are a couple of possibilities.

Tap water has a certain level of CO2. This is not as high as it could be, and the water will gain some CO2 from the air. This takes some time. Just running the water into a bucket is not enough. The KH is low, which allows the pH to swing a lot.
Overnight the new water you just added to the tank picks up the CO2 from the air and the pH drops. Generally this should not be a problem for the fish, though. Fish do not seem to mind the pH varying when it is something like CO2 causing it. There may be something else going on.
Tests 1) and 2) will help us see if the tap water is low in CO2.

Other possibility:
Live plants remove CO2 when the lights are on. The changing levels of CO2 over the course of the day can make the pH swing, and this can be quite a large change. Usually fish are not so sensitive to this, though.
Tests 3) and 4) will help figure out if this is going on.

Other possibility:
Some substrate removes the KH from the water, and this allows the pH to drop. When the substrate is new it can remove the carbonates in just a day or two. Substrate that is this active may be removing other things from the water, and this means the TDS drops. This is quite stressful to the fish.
Tests 5) and 6) will help figure out if this is happening.

Other possibility:
There is some low level of toxin in the tap water, and the Kuhlies are most sensitive. Over the course of the week something in removing it from the water, but when you have just done a water change the level is high enough to cause them some problems.
One example might be copper. Copper is common in tap water when the water comes from certain wells or in a house with copper pipes. Copper and other heavy metals can be locked up by various chelating materials, and some other processes in the tank can do this, but it takes time. There really is not test for these, but can you get a report from the water company about the water quality? (If you are on a municipal water supply). Often these are available on line.

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What I would do while you are doing these tests:
1) Run the tap water full on for at least a minute before catching it for aquarium use. Do not use hot water.
2) Run the new water into a bucket and add dechlor, but let it sit overnight before doing a water change. If you can add a bubbler or small pump, or in any other way keep the water moving this would be helpful. You can heat the water with an aquarium heater, or just reheat some on the stove (stainless steel pot) when you are ready for a water change. (I bring a small amount of the water to a boil, then dump it back into the bucket and test the temperature, repeat until the water is the right temperature)
3) If you have a water conditioner that says it locks up heavy metals, use it.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:10 PM   #7
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Wow Diana! Thank you! I will get right on these tests. Due for another water change next Thursday. I do use a dechlorinator that removes heavy metals. I have been using it because the rocks are river rocks and I wanted to be on the safe side just incase metals were inside them.

Thank you for your time and help
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:23 PM   #8
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Are you using Prime or some other chlorine/chloramine remover with every water change? I doubt that the pH change has any effect on the loaches. But, chlorine or ammonia in the water sure would have an effect.
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:58 AM   #9
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Oh most definetely I use the dechlorinator every water change. And I never have ammonia in my water. I test it before I preform my water changes which is once a week.

Last edited by Amandas tank; 10-15-2012 at 03:59 AM.. Reason: forgot to mention ammonia
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Old 10-15-2012, 06:26 PM   #10
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Which dechlorinator do you use? If your water system uses chloramine instead of chlorine (hypochlorite) you need a dechlorinator made for chloramines, like Prime.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:32 AM   #11
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I use API tap water conditioner. Before the rocks were added, I used Start Right.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:59 AM   #12
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As near as I can tell API tap water conditioner does nothing to detoxify chloramines. http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/rev-cond.htm If your tap water has chloramines added and not chlorine/hypochlorite, that is probably your problem. More and more local water companies are switching to chloramine every year.
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:42 AM   #13
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Oh wow! That would be really crappy! I am calling the local water company tomorrow. We get yearly updates from our city regarding water and our water supply comes from the salmon creek basin off the mountain. Occassionally it is treated with chlorine, but maybe they've switched since the last update they sent out.
Thank you!
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Old 10-16-2012, 07:46 AM   #14
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Seachem prime is a really good water conditioner.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:17 AM   #15
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Thank you
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kuhli loach, non co2, ph changes

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