Cant get pH low enough for CRS - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 04:17 AM Thread Starter
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Cant get pH low enough for CRS

Hey guys, I have a 33.6 gallon Mr. Aqua tank that I keep CRS in. The tank WAS a high tech planted tank for about a year and a half. I am still using the old ADA AS (the old type not the new stuff). I'm using 100% RO/DI water with zero TDS, then remineralizing it with seachem equilibrium to pH 6.6, KH 0-1, GH 4, TDS 150. Thats before it goes into the tank. But my tank water is at pH 7.2, KH 2-3, GH 4-5, TDS 150. The only thing in the tank is about 2" of the ADA soil, some driftwood, a few plants and some java moss. I cant think of anything that would be raising my KH and pH other than my soil. Is my soil just old and leaching back into the water from when I used to dose heavy ferts ( EI )?

The soil is breaking down alot and will cloud up the water VERY bad if I disturb it. The bottom inch or so is compacted and looks like silt. Should I replace my soil? I would hate to remove my shrimp and place them in a smaller tank for a month while new soil cycles (or would it not take that long since I have a eheim 2217 canister on there that has been running for about a year and a half. I have an inline CO2 reactor but the solenoid is shut off because I was not comfortable running CO2 with the shrimp.

Also, I dont feed my shrimp much at all because they seem to be finding plenty to eat in the tank. I have tried to place a few pieces of borneo wild in the tank and only a few of them are interested. So this is why I figure they are still eating off the biofilm since its such a mature tank. I am having a nitrate problem ( 5 ppm ) even though I have not fed much AT ALL since I got them. I have fed them maybe a bb size piece of food 3 times within the last 2 weeks. I have 3 indian almond leaves in the tank too but they havnt been in there long enough to start breaking down yet. I have lost about 20% of my shrimp since I got them 2 weeks ago and it makes me sick to my stomach to watch them die.

Any help would be very grateful. Thanks guys
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 05:30 AM
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I cant think of anything that would be raising my KH and pH other than my soil. Is my soil just old and leaching back into the water from when I used to dose heavy ferts ( EI )?
That would be my first guess. What media is in your filter? There's a possibility that might be doing it as well. I know fresh carbon can raise PH.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 05:36 AM
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GH is a bit low, keep it over 6.

Your not gonna be able to force ph down in a stable manner. I suggest you switch substrates and start again if you really want CRS.

Otherwise, your tank looks perfect for BTOEs, OEBTs, neos of all sorts.

Just keep up the GH. When they cant molt they die.


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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 05:37 AM
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Oh, how is your oxygenation?
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 05:46 AM Thread Starter
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That would be my first guess. What media is in your filter? There's a possibility that might be doing it as well. I know fresh carbon can raise PH.
I have 2 week old carbon in the canister, along with the original eheim sponge and the ceramic bb's and ceramic noodle cylinders (dont know the proper name. looks just like biomax from hagen but it has a whole drilled in it) I have cleaned the filter recently.

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GH is a bit low, keep it over 6.

Your not gonna be able to force ph down in a stable manner. I suggest you switch substrates and start again if you really want CRS.

Otherwise, your tank looks perfect for BTOEs, OEBTs, neos of all sorts.

Just keep up the GH. When they cant molt they die.


Please take a look at the new awesome shrimp FAQ sticker.
everything I have read for CRS says GH 4-6. can anyone else confirm this?

will give the FAQ a read through.

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Oh, how is your oxygenation?
glass lily pipe with good surface agitation but no splashing. Also, a small 6" fan blowing across the surface to cool the water which ripples the water pretty good.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 05:47 AM
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Yeah, that filter material shouldn't affect PH. I'm guessing its just the aquasoil getting old. I know you are supposed to replace it ever 12 months or so. (Depending on the water you use/plants in it)
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, that filter material shouldn't affect PH. I'm guessing its just the aquasoil getting old. I know you are supposed to replace it ever 12 months or so. (Depending on the water you use/plants in it)
also, when I took out most of the plants and fish and converted it into a shrimp tank, I'm wondering if there are alot of old root systems in the soil that are rotting and causing the nitrates? (inevitable some roots break off when you pull them up)

I have been doing 5 gallon daily water changes trying to lower nitrates with no success. it has to be coming from somewhere as i'm not really feeding.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 05:56 AM Thread Starter
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I just did another 5 gallon water change, this time siphoning the soil. ( I have never siphoned the soil because it was a planted tank.) I did this very carefully with the filter turned off so not to cloud up the water. Let me tell you, the water siphoned out was as thick and black as motor oil !!!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 06:01 AM Thread Starter
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Otherwise, your tank looks perfect for BTOEs, OEBTs, neos of all sorts.
Yeah........ the red cherries that i also have in there are breeding like rabbits.


But.... I really do want CRS !!!
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 06:23 AM
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Ph for CRS is under 6.5 as a general rule of thumb.

If you had left the plants... they were cleaning up nitrates.

How old is your test kit? May be reading bad, and 5ppm is no problem.

I say start from scratch with new substrate. Otherwise you will have problems all the way. Keep the filters running tho, so they're cycled.

I've changed substrates before, not a big deal, tank keeps cycled. Although, ADA will leach ammo right?
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 06:42 AM Thread Starter
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Ph for CRS is under 6.5 as a general rule of thumb.

If you had left the plants... they were cleaning up nitrates.

How old is your test kit? May be reading bad, and 5ppm is no problem.

I say start from scratch with new substrate. Otherwise you will have problems all the way. Keep the filters running tho, so they're cycled.

I've changed substrates before, not a big deal, tank keeps cycled. Although, ADA will leach ammo right?
I removed alot of the plants because they were demanding (high light, co2 w/ ferts) and did not want to do ferts and co2 with shrimp.

Test kits are good. I work for a LFS and have double checked every test.

Yes ADA will leach ammo for a few weeks. Not sure which type I would try next. I wasnt too happy with ADA (other than the fact that plants grew like crazy) but have heard that the new ADA AS is alot better. I kinda like akadama ........


BTW, thanks for you responses.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 07:09 AM
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The substrate should be fine, but you might want to do a heavy siphon from having a high tech setup with fert dosing.

I've had CRS with the parameters you state without any issues. You'll be amazed with what you can get away with if the water is good. I've heard tds up to 400.

Sounds like something is poisoning your shrimp. If you throw in food and they are not interested then something is wrong with the tank. Doing water changes, cleaning out or changing all the filter media, and deep siphoning will help.

Add some sponge filters if you don't have any.

Have any fancy rocks? I had issue with rocks in the past.

I got some Akadama from Pejerrey and the stuff works great.

Don't be afraid to use a little CO2 in your tank. It's help low the CRS


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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 07:25 AM Thread Starter
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The substrate should be fine, but you might want to do a heavy siphon from having a high tech setup with fert dosing.

I've had CRS with the parameters you state without any issues. You'll be amazed with what you can get away with if the water is good. I've heard tds up to 400.

Sounds like something is poisoning your shrimp. If you throw in food and they are not interested then something is wrong with the tank. Doing water changes, cleaning out or changing all the filter media, and deep siphoning will help.

Add some sponge filters if you don't have any.

Have any fancy rocks? I had issue with rocks in the past.

I got some Akadama from Pejerrey and the stuff works great.

Don't be afraid to use a little CO2 in your tank. It's help low the CRS
Can you explain why to add sponge filters? My canister filter is already overkill on that size tank. I will keep siphoning out the substrate as you have recommended and see how that works. Thanks.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 12:59 PM
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Hi Blue,

Substrate have a life expectancy before being depleted of its nutrients and buffering capabilities at which point it will need to be replaced. People may have varying opinions on the matter but the fact is, its your livestock and how well they thrive or not is purely up to you.

http://www.shrimpkeeping.com/substrate.html The substrate chart referenced will provide you a basis as you will see they range from 12 - 24 months.

Shrimp keeping is different from other types of aquaria. A canister filter may do wonders to clean tank water for extended periods of time while harbouring a large bed of beneficial bacteria. However, shrimp are constantly feeding and have no access to the mulm and bacteria in the canister which is why Jimmy kindly suggested adding a sponge filter. Sponge filters serve to add surface area for mulm and beneficial bacteria to grow while providing a dietary supplement to graze on.

You can continue to siphon and perform a deep substrate cleaning however the benefits of the soil are likely depleted at this point so it is basically as good as regular tank gravel at this point with a healthy bed of bacteria.

If you want your Crystal red bees to do well, try to get your water PH down to the 6.2 - 6.6 range while keeping kh/gh within range. PH buffering by the substrate isnt an option with your current setup so you can pre-filter the water running it through peat to lower the PH.

Consider trying the peat filtering first and a substrate swap out as a plan b if all else fails. I know its a tremendous amount of work but figure this. your tank was a high tech planted tank which has since been repurposed so the accelerated growth of yesteryear likely depleted any buffering capability of the soil. You already got a good deal of worth out of the soil. What you can do is swap half the soil out first, then wait 2 months, then swap the remainder so you can keep the tank running.

The options are there but they all require a bit of work and patience. The fact that you are asking for advice shows that you want the best results.

Jimmy mentioned rocks potentially affecting your tank. i read the sieyu rocks raising ph and likely other types may as well. just be aware.

good luck


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2012, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Blue,

Substrate have a life expectancy before being depleted of its nutrients and buffering capabilities at which point it will need to be replaced. People may have varying opinions on the matter but the fact is, its your livestock and how well they thrive or not is purely up to you.

http://www.shrimpkeeping.com/substrate.html The substrate chart referenced will provide you a basis as you will see they range from 12 - 24 months.

Shrimp keeping is different from other types of aquaria. A canister filter may do wonders to clean tank water for extended periods of time while harbouring a large bed of beneficial bacteria. However, shrimp are constantly feeding and have no access to the mulm and bacteria in the canister which is why Jimmy kindly suggested adding a sponge filter. Sponge filters serve to add surface area for mulm and beneficial bacteria to grow while providing a dietary supplement to graze on.

You can continue to siphon and perform a deep substrate cleaning however the benefits of the soil are likely depleted at this point so it is basically as good as regular tank gravel at this point with a healthy bed of bacteria.

If you want your Crystal red bees to do well, try to get your water PH down to the 6.2 - 6.6 range while keeping kh/gh within range. PH buffering by the substrate isnt an option with your current setup so you can pre-filter the water running it through peat to lower the PH.

Consider trying the peat filtering first and a substrate swap out as a plan b if all else fails. I know its a tremendous amount of work but figure this. your tank was a high tech planted tank which has since been repurposed so the accelerated growth of yesteryear likely depleted any buffering capability of the soil. You already got a good deal of worth out of the soil. What you can do is swap half the soil out first, then wait 2 months, then swap the remainder so you can keep the tank running.

The options are there but they all require a bit of work and patience. The fact that you are asking for advice shows that you want the best results.

Jimmy mentioned rocks potentially affecting your tank. i read the sieyu rocks raising ph and likely other types may as well. just be aware.

good luck
Thanks for that info. I will consider adding a sponge filter now. I'm not using sieyu rocks anymore, I took them out when I decided to keep shrimp. I really do want the best results and I think it's an uphill battle if I dont go ahead and replace the substrate now while I only have a few shrimp. Easier to replace it now when I only have about 50 shrimp then to need to replace it later when I have hundreds of shrimp. lol
And yes, my soil did its job well for over a year as a planted tank. I think its probably time to retire it.

Thanks again for your advice. As for the peat, is that something I can run in my filter with consistent results or will it swing the pH everytime I do a water change? I don't really want to put a band-aid over the wound so to speak if my soil has lost its buffering ability (or rather it's buffering in the wrong direction. lol)
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