Help required - KH and pH keep crashing
I have a 160L (approx 42g) corner tank (you can view it in "Your Tanks").
It was initially set up at the beginning of July.
I used a decent plant substrate from the local aquarist shop (I will attempt to find out the name), capped with a layer of pebbles.
I have one 15" hollowish piece of driftwood and some grapevine (both were soaked for 6 weeks outside of the tank, with regular changing of water, to leech tannins).
I used Nutrafin Cycle to help cycle the tank initially, along with water conditioner for soft water (we have soft water here in Melbourne) and Seachem Prime.
The tank has an integral 3 stage fliter system that is located in the hood.
The filter has been running as 1/8 fine and coarse pads then 6/8 a mix of fluval prefilter, fluval biomax and seachem rocks (forgot the name), and fine pad in the last 1/8). I recently swapped out the last 1/8 of fine pads and use Aquamaxx Ultramax AIO in its place (which has dropped the Nitrate levels nicely).
Tank is reasonably well planted, so I dose as recommended with Seachem Flourish (not XL) weekly. I do not run CO2, or use airstones. Fish have not been observed to be gasping.
Water changes are done every 2 weeks, at about 30%.
I test the parameters before the change and a day after the change.
Water added to the tank is dosed with both Cycle and Prime.
Local tap water is as follows:
pH 6.8 - 7.0
KH 0 !!!
Below are my observations from about 6 weeks after the tank was set up to present.
From the get go I've noticed I have been unable to maintain a pH level. It consistantly tanks. I've used Seachem Neutral Regulator dosing initially, which works for a few days but then I find pH is back down to 6.2 or lower.
GH was upwards of 16 (API master kit). I used an API water softener pillow for 24 hrs which has brought it down to around 5 - 6. It has been constant ever since.
I've only recently tested for KH. I have none!
Ammonia is 0. I have no issue with it
Nitrites have been testing at 0, but I had a reading today of 0.25ppm, which prompted me to do a water change.
Nitrates have consistently been between 40 - 80 ppm based.
Water temp is between 24 to 26 degrees celcius.
1) The constantly tanking pH. I've read that non-existent KH can cause this. I've read Baking Soda can be used to set the level, I also have access to 2mm crushed coral substrate (small African Cichlid tank leftovers). I don't really want to put a stocking of crushed coral in the back corner, but I'm worried about the adverse affects of using Baking Soda.
2) Past 2 weeks the water has become cloudy. At first I put polishing pads in the filter which worked for a while, but now it is constantly cloudy (even with new polishing pads and a weekly water change). Is this a bacterial bloom? Can people suggest ways I can fix this?
3) I use 2 x 8w HPLED lights (which doesn't quite work in the corners).
Have people built DIY HPLED systems (like Cree 3W LED's), and can they direct me to schematics/wiring diagrams/theory behind how to put them together?
I am pushed to ask this as I had only had one death prior to today, a zebra danio used during cycling. Unfortunately today saw the demise of a neon tetra and two rummynose. They all just became very lethargic, unco-ordinated in their swimming, eventually coming to rest on the bottom. No visible signs of attack/infection where evident.
Any help would be appreciated! A structured plan of attack would be ideal!
Thanks in advance.
- 160L corner tank
- o/hd 3 stage filter (fine pad, course pad, fluval biological media, aquamaxx Ultramax AIO)
- 1 x 8W HPLED blue/white & 1 x 8W HPLED white
- Substrate for plants (I will get more info!)
- Driftwood, Grapevine
- Anubias, lace fern, pink babys tear, hygrophilia, amazon sword, chain sword, java fern.
- 2 x lace gourami, 1 x blue 3-spot gourami, 15 x neon tetra, 3 x rummy nose tetra, 6 x congo tetra, 4 x zebra danio, 3 x chinese algae eater