Unstable Parameters? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Unstable Parameters?

Sorry for the novel, but I'm not sure what's going on.


In my 10G moderately planted low light/low tech tank I seem to be going through a mini-cycle, and my PH has increased as well. I also just got the Nutrafin GH and Ca test kits and am not sure of the results?


My tank has been set up for a month and seemed to be fully cycled, all ten inhabitants were happy and healthy (5 c. habrosus and 5 p. luminatus).
My parameters had been stable at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0-5ppm nitrates, PH 7.6 and 6 dKH (API test) at a temp of 78F. These were the only tests I had access to at the time.


I had not been doing any fert dosing and noticed that my plants were starting to show signs of deficiencies. I could only get SeaChem's Flourish and Excel locally and had to order Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and Fe online. I began doing light (half) dosing to ease the levels up slowly as I received them (approximately 2 weeks after planting). I kept my nitrates stable at 5-10ppm, and have started to see improvement in plant health.


As I began to add ferts I had also added 6 blue velvet shrimp (neos), which I had ordered online and drip acclimated over 30 minutes before adding to the tank. They seemed to do well for a few days, and I would see 2-3 out and about on average. Two days ago I found the pink remains of a shrimp tail, and noticed two of the remaining shrimp going crazy in the tank, so I ran some tests. Results were 0 ammonia, .25ppm nitrites, 10-15ppm nitrates PH 8.0. I'm not sure if the dead shrimp caused the spike, or if the spike caused the dead shrimp, if the ferts contributed to it or if it was just shipping stress. I did two 20% WCs an hour apart so as not to cause a huge instant change in water parameters and was able to get the nitrites to approximately .15ppm, but I did not have any access to Prime at the time and my conditioner doesn't detoxify ammonia/nitrites. The next morning I found a dead shrimp (still blue and intact) and Nitrites were back up to .25ppm. I ran out for a bottle of Prime and did another 20% WC. The behavior of both fish and shrimp improved greatly with a double dose of Prime at the time of the WC. I added another single dose in the evening before going to bed last night (3 shrimp were out and alive at that time)


This morning I woke up to a fresh molt on the substrate, with two shrimp visible. Shortly after, a second molt was found and only one shrimp visible. I'm assuming the freshly molted shrimp are hiding.
I also received the Nutrafin master test kit this morning so set about at playing chemist.


Per my API test kits, my tank this morning was
8 dKH (142ppm)
0 ammonia
.15ppm nitrites
10 ppm nitrates
PH 8.0


Per the Nutrafin my tank is
100ppm KH (10 drops)
200ppm GH (10 drops)
0 ammonia
.1ppm nitrites
10-20ppm nitrates
0 Phosphates
.25ppm Fe
PH 8.0-8.2


My tap water (per Nutrafin) is
130ppm KH
160ppm GH
PH 7.4
0 ammonia/nitrites/nitrates/phosphates/Fe


I have driftwood in the tank which can soften the water, and plants will absorb some KH and GH, so I get why those went down. But why would my PH be going up? Usually PH goes down when the KH drops? Can the nitrites or any of the ferts be raising the PH?


As per the Ca test, I couldn't figure out how to read it! The coloration was very light, and when testing the tap water the first drop of reagent #3 turned the color to a pinkish violet (a color shade between the starting and ending color), and as more drops were added there was no real blue/violet definition. With a GH of 160ppm, I would assume some of that would be Ca and should be detectable past the first drop?
When I tested my tank water the light pink was almost clear, and I was never able to get any sort of violet. I tested both the tap and tank water twice and got the same results. Is this user error? Could the majority of my GH be magnesium with little/no Ca? Does the fact that the tank water never turned violet mean there's a lot of Ca.... or no Ca at all? I stopped at 10 drops of reagent #3 for all 4 tests. Should I have done more?


Again, sorry for the novel. I realize it's a bit all over the place, but with so many changes happening at the same time I'm not sure what could have triggered each thing. Any thoughts and advice is greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 10:04 PM
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Some of the reergents need serious vigorous shaking, and defined time between adding drops.

Could this be the issue?

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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I was aware of the necessary 30s. shaking for nitrates... But I missed the 5s. shake of reagent #2 for Ca. I'll try again!

Bingo! Tap Ca is 40ppm, tank is 60ppm. Never underestimate user error!

Last edited by Darkblade48; 11-02-2017 at 06:59 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function to keep threads cleaner
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