Low pH - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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Low pH

NO3: 80
NO2: 10
pH: 6-6.5
KH: 40
GH: 30

I'm fairly new to this now. I've had this tank for over a month. 20 gal with 5 guppies, 5 glowlight tetras, 4 amano shrimp, mystery snail and a hitchhiker baby snail (not sure what it is).

I've got an assortment of plants.. I know some are combination bought and one is a sword. About 8 total.
Had only plants and amano shrimp for several weeks before adding fish.
I've been doing 30% changes weekly and using a gravel cleaner hose to clean off the top of the sand weekly.

Not sure what I am doing wrong. Just bought some flourish searchem comp. I'm seeing some red tips and yellowing of the plants. My aquarium is far too acidic still. I removed the carbon from my filter last night out of fear that it may affect my plant nutrients.. going to buy some pads I can cut and reuse instead today. Fish are acting normal and happy.
The bottom is fairly clear so I'm not sure why nitrates seem so high. Seems my water is too soft and the tank has not fully cycled? Any feedback is helpful, thanks!

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 02:11 PM
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It looks like the tank isnít fully cycled yet, are grossly overfeeding or donít have enough bio-media and Iím assuming there arenít any dead fish or plants rotting in the tank.

Please give us a little more info:
- What is the substrate?
- What is your NH3?
- The numbers you have for GH and KH, are they ppm or degrees (looks like ppm)?
- What is your water source?
- What products do you have in your filter ?
- What type of light do you have?
- Are you injecting CO2?
- What products are you dosing and amounts dosed?

Carbon isnít very useful. At best, it lasts about a week. Switch to Seachemís Purigen. It is much more efficient than charcoal and lasts much longer. You pH isnít bad. Your plants and fish should be fine in it, but it can be adjusted, if you want to do so.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
It looks like the tank isnít fully cycled yet, are grossly overfeeding or donít have enough bio-media and Iím assuming there arenít any dead fish or plants rotting in the tank.

Please give us a little more info:
- What is the substrate?
- What is your NH3?
- The numbers you have for GH and KH, are they ppm or degrees (looks like ppm)?
- What is your water source?
- What products do you have in your filter ?
- What type of light do you have?
- Are you injecting CO2?
- What products are you dosing and amounts dosed?

Carbon isnít very useful. At best, it lasts about a week. Switch to Seachemís Purigen. It is much more efficient than charcoal and lasts much longer. You pH isnít bad. Your plants and fish should be fine in it, but it can be adjusted, if you want to do so.
Agree with all this except the Purigen. I tend to keep it as simple as possible and never used it. Not that it is a bad product, just maybe not necessary?
Something to keep in mind on new tanks is that the bacteria is pretty thin and easy to disrupt at first, far more "tender" than later. That leaves me going very slowly/gently on cleaning until they get fully settled in. Water changes to reduce pollution but I tend to not wipe down the glass, clean the filter, or move too much around as those all lose some bacteria. First I want the tank running well on bacteria as that is what saves the fish and then later, I can begin to move/change things with a little less fear of killing some bacteria.
Depending on some of the answers to the questions, I might tend to suggest adding a nice limestone rock that appeals to you. Part for dťcor but in acidic water it also tends to bump the PH/GH/KH up in a slow fashion. It will do this slowly in acidic water which is far better than adding things that might change the tank suddenly. Higher KH makes the PH more stable (buffers) and stable is what I want.
Fish adapt very well if we hold the tank steady. They suffer when we keep moving the targets!
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
Agree with all this except the Purigen. I tend to keep it as simple as possible and never used it. Not that it is a bad product, just maybe not necessary?
Interesting that you said this. Purigen is excellent at dealing with organics and making water clear but, like you, I no longer use it and I also no longer use any bio-media. Just mechanical filtration. All the rest is now performed by my plant, substrate and assorted BB film here and there. OP: you shouldn't try no bio-media at this point.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
It looks like the tank isnít fully cycled yet, are grossly overfeeding or donít have enough bio-media and Iím assuming there arenít any dead fish or plants rotting in the tank.

Please give us a little more info:
- What is the substrate?
- What is your NH3?
- The numbers you have for GH and KH, are they ppm or degrees (looks like ppm)?
- What is your water source?
- What products do you have in your filter ?
- What type of light do you have?
- Are you injecting CO2?
- What products are you dosing and amounts dosed?

Carbon isnít very useful. At best, it lasts about a week. Switch to Seachemís Purigen. It is much more efficient than charcoal and lasts much longer. You pH isnít bad. Your plants and fish should be fine in it, but it can be adjusted, if you want to do so.
Please give us a little more info:
- What is the substrate?
Sand substrate from petco
- What is your NH3?
I'm not sure how to measure ammonia.. I bought testing strips but these only tested what I said above.
- The numbers you have for GH and KH, are they ppm or degrees (looks like ppm)?
Ppm
- What is your water source?
City tap water.. add conditioner first and temp is right before adding in.
- What products do you have in your filter ?
Quietflow 10 filter and cartridge. Removed the charcoal last night. Going to buy a new filter pad insert today to replace. I have a 2nd pump running from older tank w/o filter for more water flow.
- What type of light do you have?
Aqueon T8 floromax
- Are you injecting CO2?
No
- What products are you dosing and amounts dosed?
I have used flourish searchem for 2 doses this week. Used about 2 ml each dose. Bought a bacteria liquid supplement. Not sure what brand, at work right now, but it was also petco. It says 10 drops per gallon but I have used less, here and there after a water change.

No dead animals and I've had to remove some leaves here and there.
Where can I shop for searchem's purigen? I can try petco, petsmart, etc.?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 07:23 PM
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First: although the hobbyist test kits we use are not precise, the test strips are the least accurate. Most of us use the liquid-type tests. Given your nitrite reading (which may not be accurate), I would assume that you also may have ammonia issues. I have found most of API's test kits to be good enough for the ballpark testing we do. You can get those on Amazon or a LFS. You may also want to get their GH/KH, nitrate and phosphate tests as well. They are about $10 each.

Filter is good, but get rid of the charcoal. As PlantedRich suggested, you can do without chemical filtration, but I have found keeping it until your tank is established is a good crutch. if you want the Seachem Purigen, which I recommend in your case, you can get their 100 mL bag for about $12. It will last a month or so and can be recharged at home. If Petco/Petsmart (ugh Ė try to find a LFS) doesn't have it, Amazon does. It seems like your BB (beneficial bacteria) are still developing, so it's important to keep NH3 down in the meantime. Purigen will help.

Your tap water is probably stable, but why don't you test it for nitrates and see how much it is contributing, if any. I would target GH and KH in the 90 ppm area. Many test kits, such as the API, show degrees rather than ppm. That would translate into about 5 degrees for those test kits. As PlantedRich suggested, you can raise both GH and KH slowly with a limestone rock or faster with additives. For fast adjustment and weekly control, I recommend Seachem Equilibrium for GH and Seachem alkaline buffer or just plain baking soda (not baking powder) for KH. As KH increases, so will pH.

Continue to dose Seachem Flourish as per their instructions. I donít go in for the nitrifying bacteria supplements, so I have no comment on their effectiveness.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Bought purigen and a co2 diffuser. Glowlight tetra has died and I now have an orange twitching amano shrimp on his back.
Only had co2 on for half an hour. Turned if off now.. Could it be the co2? Maybe the trace copper from flourish? Yikes

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 11:30 PM
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Where did the CO2 come in? I thought you said you didn't inject CO2. In any case, remove it until you get the water parameters under control and then seek advice (on TPT) or study-up on how to administer CO2.

I don't think we can do anything else until we know your ammonia levels. If you think the fish are starting to die due to non-CO2 issues (one glowlight may not be an indicator), then start daily water changes of 20-30%. My guess is that you gassed the glowlight (which I've done myself). The CO2 will off-gas in an hour or two after it's shut off.

Yellow leaves can mean a number of things, but the red tips you mentioned, in combination with yellow, seems more like a nitrogen deficiency, yet your nitrates are supposedly high.

Let's stay the course on moving GH/KH up, dosing Flourish and getting better test kits to see what your water parameters are.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Glowlight died before co2 diffuser was added. I bought one yesterday after that post when I picked up purigen. 2 amano shrimp died after co2 sadly. I took the diffuser out. I should have read up on it first. I didn't realize I needed to administer it much more gradually. Purigen has been running for a day now. Fish seem content and active. Nitrite level has dropped a bit. pH level is still too low.. 6-6.2 or so, but these testing strips aren't super reliable. I was going to get crushed coral too at the store but it was a big bag so I passed on it. I guess just be patient and keep doing water changes. I won't be buying a better water test just yet, already spent a lot recently :/ lol sigh
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Misscapatillar View Post
Glowlight died before co2 diffuser was added. I bought one yesterday after that post when I picked up purigen. 2 amano shrimp died after co2 sadly. I took the diffuser out. I should have read up on it first. I didn't realize I needed to administer it much more gradually. Purigen has been running for a day now. Fish seem content and active. Nitrite level has dropped a bit. pH level is still too low.. 6-6.2 or so, but these testing strips aren't super reliable. I was going to get crushed coral too at the store but it was a big bag so I passed on it. I guess just be patient and keep doing water changes. I won't be buying a better water test just yet, already spent a lot recently :/ lol sigh
I understand. If you want to move the pH up, try adding about 2/3 teaspoon of baking soda (not baking powder) to the tank. That should raise your KH by about 40 ppm, which should drag the pH up into the 7+ area. If pH still isn't where you want it, adjust the dosage.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I will try that. I've read it's better to add baking soda to conditioned water first, not directly? I don't want to shock the fish and shrimp any more.. hoping to do it as gently as possible.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 03:54 AM
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Thanks. I will try that. I've read it's better to add baking soda to conditioned water first, not directly? I don't want to shock the fish and shrimp any more.. hoping to do it as gently as possible.
That won't be a shock. pH changes are not the shock that some think it is. If you were going from 8 to 5, then that's a problem, but you're nowhere close to anything like that. TDS shocks are far more damaging and they have to move by more than about 10% to begin to be felt. You are raising your KH by about 2 degrees, which is nothing.

As far as dissolving it in a glass of tank water, that's fine, but it's not necessary. If you are really concerned, do half one day and the other half next day.
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