pH and aeration ... working backwards? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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pH and aeration ... working backwards?

I've recently upgraded the lighting on my 10g tank in an effort to improve the growth of my plants. I went from a single 15w T8 to 39w of CF lighting. I also started shutting off the aeration during the day to let the CO2 buildup for the plants.

All seemed to be going well, the plants were pearling, the fish were happy until I did the weekly water tests. Everything was normal, until I got to pH. Our tank has been at a steady 7.8 for two years, a little higher than the tap water (7.5), but we have some limestone in our gravel (bad batch ... )

Last sunday it was at 8.6+, off the charts of our pH test.

We checked it three times, checked the test (it's reacting properly) and re-checked the tap water (7.5, like normal). The test was done in the evening, after a whole day with no aeration.

To make the story even more strange, we re-checked the next morning, after aerating the tank all night, and .... pH=7.8.

Turned off the aeration for the day. Just for the fun of it, I check at around noon, pH=8.2, but days end it's back to 8.6+. This with the aeration turned off.

I though aeration was supposed to increase pH, not decrease it? And that letting CO2 buildup is supposed to bring it down?

Our tank is apparently working backwards. The only explanation I can think of is that the plants are stripping out all the CO2 and the pH is going up ... but frankly I'm grasping at straws.

So what do you guys think is going on in my tank?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 01:13 AM
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I think you need to get the limestone out of there. Who knows what all it's leaching into the water to buffer the high pH?

Have you checked your kH and gH?





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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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GH and kH are stable at around 100/50.

As for the limestone, it's integrated into the substrate ... I think we got a bum batch. I'd have to replace all the substrate and switch to something else, a PITA.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 01:31 PM
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It's a minor PITA that I think you really need to go through with. You're never going to stop fighting this thing until you get that substrate out. It's just a ten gallon tank, it won't be that difficult (or expensive). What kind of gravel did you use to get "a bad batch?"

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Blue Ridge Reef View Post
It's a minor PITA that I think you really need to go through with. You're never going to stop fighting this thing until you get that substrate out. It's just a ten gallon tank, it won't be that difficult (or expensive). What kind of gravel did you use to get "a bad batch?"
It was standard aquarium gravel for our LFS. It even said that it wouldn't affect water chemistry ... except that our pH rises when we don't do regular water changes.

I'll start looking around for other gravel. I like the "natural look" in my tanks. Do you think that something like Flourite or Eco-Complete would be worth it?
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 04:04 PM
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If you're planning on growing plants, absolutely! You can also pick up Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil at your local hardware store if you're on a tight budget. It doesn't provide the nutrients that Eco-complete does, but it's an inert fired clay product that roots take hold in well. You will need to rinse it like mad, though.
I'm stunned that aquarium gravel would contain lime.

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 04:29 PM
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I'd also contact the manufacturer and see if they'll send you a refund.

x2 on Fluorite and Eco in planted tanks. I'm really liking the looks and what I hear about the Fluorite black sand...





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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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I don't think I'll try for a refund ... $4 bag of two year old gravel ... not likely to get any kind of refund.

I'll see what I can do about getting flourite or eco complete. Probably in black.

Any ideas if it'll affect my inverts? I've got some amanos in there ATM.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 07:17 PM
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As long as you don't kill your cycle switching out all your gravel, those substates should both be fine with shrimp.

You might want to vacuum your tank before doing the switch and add back in all the mulm as soon as the switch is over. Also, don't clean the filter at all for a few weeks.





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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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I'll probably do the change in steps. Remove and replace 25-33% of the gravel each week and let the new gravel get re-colonized before changing the rest.

I just hope that it won't be too much of a setback for my plants. My crypts are pretty new and are just starting to get established.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 10:47 PM
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Crypts can be pains. If they melt they should come back though.

Your plan sounds like a good one.





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