First GH & KH test, help with results please - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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First GH & KH test, help with results please

So I did my first GH & KH test today, and it took 7 drops for KH to turn bright yellow so I figure it to be about 120ppm and 19 drops for my GH to turn green leaving me in the 350 range, so my question is what does this really mean. According to my chart I'm fine for most tropical fish a little high for plants with my KH, but my GH is way too high for almost everything I have in my tank. Here's the thing though, I've had my fish (Mollies, Guppies, Platies, kuhli loaches, Glo Tetra's, Neon Tetra's) all living very happily together for almost 2 years now. I also have a couple of swords in the tank for over a year now and they are still doing fine, so I'm not really concerned about this tank, but in my daughter's tank which we set up about 6 weeks ago and planted about 3 weeks ago, I'm a little concerned because I'm new to plants and dwarf shrimp (Cherry Reds). Should I be concerned? I have Cabomba, Rosette Sword, Cryptocoryne Wendtii, Java Moss, and I believe ludwigia, will hard water be horrible for any of these? Also noticed 0 Nitrates in my tank, is this because the shrimp have almost 0 bio load? I am definitely cycled. Went through the High Ammonia, then high Nitrite/0 nitrate, then high nitrite/20 ppm nitrate, then 0 nitrite/10 ppm nitrate which is when I planted the tank. The next day my nitrate was 0. I checked 2 more times since then, still reading 0. I made sure to shake everything as instructed, it is 0 nitrates or at least too low to register. Should I just start dumping flakes in the tank? I did have some algae on my glass a few days ago which I cleaned up, so I must be getting some nitrates right, but my understanding is that I need more considering I have plants.

Joe
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 12:54 AM
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If you're using the API GH/KH testing kit, every 1 drop of GH or KH directly translates to 1 dKH or dGH (about 17.8 ppm). So if you multiply out your results, you have 124.6 ppm KH and 338.2 ppm GH. The GH seems really, really high as usually cherry red shrimp have ranges of 0-4 KH, 6-8 GH, and 150-300 TDS (although these ranges can vary if the vendor you buy from has different water parameters). You probably want to check the TDS of this tank because it is likely too high and you will need to lower it for shrimp with RO water. If you already have shrimp in your tank (which it seems like you do), if you want to change any parameters, I would drip acclimate the new water into the tank as to not greatly affect any one parameter. Neocaridinas are rather hardy compared to other shrimp species; however, invertebrates as a whole are sensitive to changes in water conditions. Also, shrimp have almost no bioload on a tank!

I have hard water for my ludwigia, hygrophilia, persicaria, and limnophilia and they appear to be fine. Plants use the extra minerals in the KH/ GH to grow, so if you aren't dosing extra nutrients, eventually the KH and GH will lower. I can't really comment about how the hardness of your water will affect your specific plants as I am not familiar with growing them.

For the 0 nitrates, if you have a medium to heavily planted tank, you will get a reading of 0. I went through a lot of research with my tank trying to figure out why I had 0 ppm nitrates after cycling. Apparently, the plants use this form of nitrogen best when growing! I wouldn't recommend dumping more flakes into the tank as the ammonia from the flakes degrading will likely kill any shrimp you have. I've seen other forum posts where ammonia levels as low as 0.25 ppm have had massive shrimp deaths. As long as your cycle was completed (added ammonia turned into nitrates in 1 day), your tank's bacteria are sufficient to keep up with the shrimp.

I'd suggest leaving some algae on the side and back glass so your shrimp have something to much on in between feedings. I dose extra nitrogen to see extra growth of my plants in my tank with high lighting, but if you don't mind having minimal growth day-to-day, you are fine with just the good bacteria supplying nitrates for the plants (depending on other things like whether your substrate has nutrients or is inert, if you are dosing micro or macro nutrients on a regular basis, and if you used root tabs).

Sorry this reply was so long, but I wanted to answer your questions as I had all of these when setting up my tanks as well! Saves you hours of digging through forum posts to find a general consensus.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Zorya, I do have Red Cherry and Ghost shrimp in the tank already. Red's seem to be fine, a couple are berried, and I haven't seen a dead one yet, although there could be one in the plants or under the drift wood somewhere. But as a whole, the cherry shrimp appear to be good. The Ghosts seem good as well. I've seen a few molted pieces around the tank, and still have all 3. I'll keep an eye on them. I'm glad to hear that the hardness shouldn't affect the plants much. I was going to buy one of those GH lowering pillow sponges, but I didn't like the idea of lowering the GH only to have it build back up again when the pillow loses it's effectiveness. I was also thinking about buying distilled water in the store and mixing it with my tap for water changes, but maybe I'll wait and see how the plants do over the next 3 weeks. Some plants were okay but not great in the previous 3 weeks, and others were poor, but I wasn't providing any fertilizer for them. After some recommendations, and a little reading, I'm now using excel, iron, trace, and a couple others as the Seachem chart recommends. I'm probably going to switch over to ThriveS as recommended once the Seachem stuff is used up. Thanks again for your help!

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 01:42 AM
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Just be sure to not add any extra copper to your tanks. I think that the copper concentration from Trace might even be a little high, although I don't know for sure. There have been mixed responses from the community about that. Also note that adding fertilizers from dosing also increased TDS and GH/ KH. I think KH is primarily controlled by calcium ions and GH is everything else. I forgot to mention that nitrates over 20 ppm (generally) also have a negative effect on shrimp, so you've actually gotten quite lucky with the plants taking all of it out of the water!

If you want to reduce the GH, I'd recommend gradually adding in DI or RO water instead of using the pillows. I think it would be more cost effective in the long run because the higher GH you have, the faster the pillows will be exhausted. Definitely don't use chemicals to reduce the GH because that's bad for the shrimp. I think DI water is pretty cheap in the store, especially if there is a self-service water station (make sure to test the water from this machine as it varies store to store what is actually inside). I'm considering it myself because my tap is liquid rock and I'd like to lower pH with a DI/tap mix.

Good luck with the shrimp, I think they are such a great addition to any aquarist's collection . I wish they weren't so sensitive though to water parameters!
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 03:27 AM
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A couple of questions here.

1) Is the GH/KH from the tank, tap, or both? If tank, check your tap. If you top off evaporation with tap, it will increase your TDS/GH over time. If that is tap, you really should consider cutting it with RO water (maybe shoot for half and half).

2) Once you are cycled, are you continuing to add ammonia until you add livestock? Stopping will impact the beneficial bacteria as they no longer have a food source. It's not going to kill off your whole cycle, but it may cause some die off.

Beyond that, a couple things to mention. Fish can adapt pretty well (and shrimp can too but to a lesser extent), so having less than ideal parameters may not cause any issues in the near term. I would only look at correcting it for potential long term issues (like them not living as long as they should).

Also, good thinking on not using the pillows - just mix with RO and you'll avoid unstable parameters. Make sure to always top off with RO as well

On the copper front, I dose half EI (CSM+B) in my CRS and Cherry tanks and have never had issues with copper. Keep in mind, shrimp actually need trace amounts of copper - it's excess that kills them.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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I only tested the GH/KH from the tank, didn't think about testing the tap, but I know that we have very hard water here. I may be able to get RO water from work, we send RO up to the OR's so I should be able to bring a few gallons home every week.

No, I didn't add any ammonia since being cycled. I've been feeding the shrimp pellets and granules, but that's it. I'm planning on picking up a nerite soon, maybe even today, I figure that would help with the bio load. I'm hesitant to do too much because I do have a few berried shrimp, and I don't want to do anything to have them drop their eggs. Once the population grows a little, I'd be more open to make bigger changes to the water.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 08:33 PM
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[QUOTE=natemcnutty;10205826]A couple of questions here.
2) Once you are cycled, are you continuing to add ammonia until you add livestock? Stopping will impact the beneficial bacteria as they no longer have a food source. It's not going to kill off your whole cycle, but it may cause some die off.
QUOTE]

If you aren't planning on stocking any more fish or adding a ton of shrimp, I don't think you need to add extra food for the beneficial bacteria. The reason you add it in the beginning is to get a nice buildup of them to be able to stock the tank with fauna. There's not much you get out of trying to maintain a higher number of bacteria for less stock, it seems like a little extra word. Is this right? Some of the food for the shrimp inevitably breaks down into ammonia anyways.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 09:02 PM
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[quote=Zorya;10207586]
Quote:
Originally Posted by natemcnutty View Post
A couple of questions here.
2) Once you are cycled, are you continuing to add ammonia until you add livestock? Stopping will impact the beneficial bacteria as they no longer have a food source. It's not going to kill off your whole cycle, but it may cause some die off.
QUOTE]

If you aren't planning on stocking any more fish or adding a ton of shrimp, I don't think you need to add extra food for the beneficial bacteria. The reason you add it in the beginning is to get a nice buildup of them to be able to stock the tank with fauna. There's not much you get out of trying to maintain a higher number of bacteria for less stock, it seems like a little extra word. Is this right? Some of the food for the shrimp inevitably breaks down into ammonia anyways.
Yeah, let's be totally clear here, never add ammonia once you have livestock! I said continue UNTIL you add livestock

I've seen some people cycle until ammonia is fully processed into nitrates, stop dosing ammonia, and wait a while before adding fish/shrimp. That wait shouldn't be too long or some of your beneficial bacteria can die off (some can go dormant for a while and come back without a problem).

Last edited by natemcnutty; 05-14-2017 at 09:02 PM. Reason: Typo
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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I am planning on adding some endlers, pygmy cories, rasboras, and maybe neon tetras, but not for a few months. I want the plants and moss to grow in first, and have a well established Red Cherry population. Obviously I wouldn't add all the fish at once, but will have a lot of small guys in there once I do.

Joe
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 01:35 AM
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Joe7cri your tank looks very much like mine, with glotetra and similar decor LOL. I am wondering how much can you stock in the 20g tank, since my glotetras are not happy and aggressive, 2 green and 2 red so far.
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