ph and phosphate problem - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2010, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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ph and phosphate problem

first off, this is my first post and im glad to be entering into the world of planted tanks.

my setup-
35 g Hex with 1 angel, 4 rummynose, 6 neons
emperor 280 ( couple pieces of coral in the filter)
1 15W
(has been established for about 4 months)

recently i decided to plant the tank so i tore it down, removed fish to quarantine tank, i went to an extremely reputable LFS for help in setting up low tech system. they set me up with flourite base, with CaribSea instant aquarium gravel top layer. i added another 15W strip light by cutting out a hole behind the existing light. for plants i got an anubias nana, a few crypt parva, couple dwarf hairgrass and another stem plant( cant remember the name)


now for my problems-
previously my tank had a problem with too low of pH(even though my tap is about 6.8), so another LFS i deal with gave me some buffer to bring it up to about 6.8, thats fine

after i planted i tested the water the next morning and it was 6.0 , so i waited to add the fish. i went back to the LFs that helped me with the plants, they gave me Seachem Neutral Regulator for the pH and they tested my phosphates while i was there , it was low but not 0 so they gave me Seachem Phosgaurd. I added both and my pH went back to 6.8 with is fine but my phosphates were off the charts . I then investigated and saw that buffer has phosphate buffer. Now what do i do? ive read other with similar problems saying even with water changes it takes forever bc the gravel soaks of the phosphate. Also, what could be causing my pH to drop so much? Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2010, 01:41 AM
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Ok. I know this isn't the answer you are looking for. Through away the neutral regulator and the phosguard and the buffering product that you bought. Artificially raising the pH by adding who knows what is not good for your fish and is not a solution. If you have something in your tank that is lowering the pH then you have to figure that out and deal with it or maybe you don't have to do anything to fix it. I don't know which substrates can change the pH but there are some-perhaps the CaribSea substrate is the culprit? In those cases it just takes time to run it's course. Regular water changes is the course of action. Stability is the key. Keep it simple. Don't sweat the pH numbers-focus on good regular maintainence. Don't mess with your water chemistry-it's probably a-ok. Take a close look at whats going on in the tank. Is there anything that could affect the pH like decaying driftwood or something like that? If it's all good then do a search on the CaribSea substrate and see if people are reporting that it drops pH. Oh and do some water changes to get everything back to normal. As for phosphate getting bound to the gravel IDK but I do know that phosphate is a good thing for plants-you'll need to be adding that and nitrate, potassium and trace elements along with a carbon source for the plants to grow properly.


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Last edited by MarkMc; 02-22-2010 at 01:44 AM. Reason: because i can
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2010, 02:39 AM
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The fact that the LFS sold you two products to use as a substrate, instead of just the Flourite, which was all you needed, tells me that their main concern was their bottom line. I have never trusted the sales clerks at LFS for anything other than telling me how much I owe them. The ideal pH for your tank is the one it has when you use tap water with no pH altering chemicals, and no filter media that removes phosphates or nitrates. I never measure the pH of my tank water. If I enjoyed monitoring water parameters, as I once did, I would measure the pH, the KH, the GH and whatever else I could get a test kit for, but not to make decisions about what to do to the water in the tank.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2010, 03:13 AM
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Do not chase pH.

Test the GH and KH of the tap water and the tank, and lets get those in a good range for the fish and plants. Angels and Neon Tetras are pretty adaptable, but lower is better for them. Rummynose are more particular, and lower is better for them. Most aquatic plants are not very picky at all, and as long as these are not too low they will be fine.
IMO, optimum GH and KH for this set up will be from about 3 degrees to about 9 degrees.
Some tap water is too low in these minerals, and the plants would be deficient. Most tap water has plenty of each. Test it and see.

Phosphate is a plant fertilizer. Do not add phosphate removing media to the filter, add plants to the tank.
Many minerals will end up in the substrate. This is good. This is a reserve of fertilizers and trace nutrients that the plants will use.

If this was not a planted tank, then yes, the phosphate can hang around a while, and keep dropping the pH.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for the help. my pH was actually dropping before i put the plants in, my tap is 6.8 but it was dropping so thats when i started using the buffer bc fish were dying, none have died since using the buffer ( good thing IMO) i would love to not have to add a buffer but my fish were dying. the other thing that is also "convinving" me the buffer is the way to go is my rummynose have never had such a rich red face. it sounds crazy. but based on the advice im gonna continue water changes without adding buffer and see what happens. as far as phosphates, ill keep the Phosgaurd in to lower it alittle since all my research shows that too much phosphate is bad for plants. my plants are doing well except for one, unknown name, which is dying at a rapid rate. i guess its trial and error. thanks again.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 04:00 AM
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I don't think there is a possibility of having too much phosphate for the plants. I once dosed phosphate at nitrate levels for a week or so, before I noticed I had made a mistake. I didn't see any effect at all on the plants. And, I didn't do a big water change other than my weekly 50% change. The nutrient levels we aim for are far below the levels that cause problems, other than for CO2, where we flirt with the level that can kill the fish.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 04:07 AM
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Ugh.

Lose the phosgaurd. Your plants need it. You do not have much at all. I ADD it to my tanks.

Worry about kh and gh. pH is worthless. Do not use the buffer, it has phosphates in it! You want stable, not perfect. You are wasting money and will have a harder time in the end. Please take the advice given.

What substrate do you use? What is your tap kH and gH? Some simple epsom salts or GH booster would prob be a lot easier(and cheaper) if you have low values.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misfit36 View Post
thanks for the help. my pH was actually dropping before i put the plants in, my tap is 6.8 but it was dropping so thats when i started using the buffer bc fish were dying, none have died since using the buffer ( good thing IMO) i would love to not have to add a buffer but my fish were dying. the other thing that is also "convinving" me the buffer is the way to go is my rummynose have never had such a rich red face. it sounds crazy. but based on the advice im gonna continue water changes without adding buffer and see what happens. as far as phosphates, ill keep the Phosgaurd in to lower it alittle since all my research shows that too much phosphate is bad for plants. my plants are doing well except for one, unknown name, which is dying at a rapid rate. i guess its trial and error. thanks again.
Doing frequent water changes without adding buffer is good-you're on the right track. However, your research on phosphate is wrong! The water changes will remove the excess phosphate then you will need to add phosphate in a purposeful manner for the plants because they need it.Overdosing my tank with phosphate accidentally had no visible effect on my plants or fish too.


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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wow. i appreciate the replies and help again. it seems like there are so many different opinions out there on the web. the LFS im dealing with like i said earlier, is extremely reputable with the nicest setups in their stores ( comparable to Amano style). i guess we'll see what happens. i dont have the kh or gh test kit, ill pick that up today.
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