Help with new plants in an old tank - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Help with new plants in an old tank

Hello,
I have a 90 gal tank that has been active for 10-12 years, with 1 pleco, a striped dwarf catfish, and 5 clownloaches, 4 of whom are original. I added some yellow mollies the other day, the first fish additions in over 5 years, because my wife wanted some colour in the tank.

I also set up a CO2 bubbler for the first time since I gave up with DIY yeast/sugar didn't work out for me. I want to try to grow some plants instead of the black hair algae that has been my only 'plant' life for ever.

I am also remiss in that I checked the water parameters for the first time in years...

So where I live, the tap water is practically distilled: pH = 7.0, KH = 20 ppm and GH < 20 ppm. My habit for water changes is to do a quarter tank change, and then add conditioner and a heaping tablespoon of baking soda. I got out of the habit of checking parameters.

The CO2 has been bubbling for 24 hours, so I checked the tank: pH <6, GH 80 ppm, KH <20 ppm. I turned off the CO2.

So I have done a 1/4 tank water change, and added 1 tsp bicarb/50L to buffer the tank. Post change parameters: pH = 7.5, GH = 30 ppm, and KH = 130 ppm. Ammonia = 0.

So the correction is more than I would have liked. I turned the CO2 back on.

My question: I'm lost. I don't want to kill fish that have been fine for years and years. My biggest concern is the unknown variable on the tank chemistry by adding dissolved CO2 to the tank.

A point in the right direction would be appreciated.

(Attached photo, as I hope to journal this as a success story...)
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 10:49 PM
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Hi smilingfrog,

Welcome to TPT!

I see you are on the 'Wet Coast' and no doubt are aware we have extremely soft water. I live in Seattle and deal with basically the same conditions; [email protected]<1.0 and [email protected]<2.0. If I understand correctly you started adding CO2 and the PH in your tank dropped like a rock. Your tape water is typically [email protected] and [email protected] Your initial readings prior to the recent 25% water change were PH<6.0, [email protected] and [email protected] (had it been a while since the last water change or do you have shells or stones that increase the dGH in your tank)? Then you did a a 25% water change and added one teaspoon (1 tsp) of Baking Soda (NaHCO3); now the readings are [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] Is that basically correct?

I suggest you forget about PH and dKH for the time being and concentrate on dGH. Once the dGH is where it should be then we will see if we need to adjust the dKH/Ph of the tank. I like to target about [email protected], it seems to work well for most plants and fish that I keep. Seachem Equilibrium is good for adjusting dGH. Your 90 gallon tank likely has about 72 gallons of water, the rest of the volume displaced by substrate. If you add 3 level tablespoons (not teaspoons) of Equilibrium to your tank the dGH should increase by 1.0 dGH. I would suggest after your weekly water changes you add 3 tablespoons of Equilibrium to the tank along with your de-chloinator if you use one. The day after the water changes check your dGH. Once it is at 4.0 then we will check the dKH/PH and see if we need to make further adjustments.

If you have questions just ask!
-Roy

75 Gallon Planted

Roy_________
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75 Gallon, 2X55W AH Supply CF 8800K, 1X 59W Fluval Plant (3.0); 45 Gallon Tall, 1X 46W Fluval Plant (3.0); 30 Gallon Long; Fluval F&P 2.0; 20 Gallon, 1X26W AH Supply LED; all with CO2 & (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick reply!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
If I understand correctly you started adding CO2 and the PH in your tank dropped like a rock. Your tape water is typically [email protected] and [email protected] Your initial readings prior to the recent 25% water change were PH<6.0, [email protected] and [email protected] (had it been a while since the last water change or do you have shells or stones that increase the dGH in your tank)? Then you did a a 25% water change and added one teaspoon (1 tsp) of Baking Soda (NaHCO3); now the readings are [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] Is that basically correct?
I do fairly regular water changes, and the last one was probably 2-3 weeks ago. I add epsom salts occasionally to the water with every 3-4th change. I have oyster shells, but not currently in the tank.

My kit for GH measures as mg/L(ppm) so the dGH = 3 (30ppm) and dKH = 7.3 (130 ppm). Basically correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
I suggest you forget about PH and dKH for the time being and concentrate on dGH. Once the dGH is where it should be then we will see if we need to adjust the dKH/Ph of the tank. I like to target about [email protected],
From what I remember about chemistry, Ca++ and Mg++ don't buffer the water. NaHCO3 tends to keep the pH at around 7.4. Can you explain the rationale about GH over KH? Just curious.

I did another water change today. dGH = 3; pH = 7.4; dKH = 10. Nitrates ~= 50 ppm (hence the water change). Nitrites and ammonia = 0.

I will get some equilibrium and try that instead. Thanks for the advise. I'll keep things posted here.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 01:37 AM
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You sound far more experienced than I am, but just a note that if CO2 is lowering your pH too far... I know there are high tech and low tech approaches with different goals, and perhaps you have high tech goals? I've never used CO2, and I have no algae problems- just the low tech low light approach (Finnex Stingray). Plants grow quite lush, just slowly (except the Ludwigia and Java moss, which require weekly trims). Just a thought. Certainly sounds like you know your stuff, I'm sure that you'll have a gorgeous tank!
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