How long has this tank been established? I know once you start using a ph buffer to raise it or lower it you have to keep doing it until you change what is causing it in the first place. so if you forget to do it.. it will fall again quickly. I am fairly new to this hobby.. so I would wait until some more seasoned members can help you out. If I am wrong someone will point it out! lol
the tank has been established for about 4 months. i used to have gravel as a substrate, but this problem occured before. i took the tank out to keep it sterile, but my LFS told me that that was bad because bacteria lives basically in the substrate etc etc. i recently, about last week, put in prewashed sand from my LFS, which drastically improved my fish, they started to eat again etc etc. so it was a good step.
i tried the buffer like for a bit. about 1 small package with 2 packets that was to treat for a 10g each packet. i put it in, went to 6.5, for about an hour, and dropped back down. my fish were fine with it, but it was a waste of 2 dollars
, so yeah im done with buffers.
First off, why are your nitrates bottomed out??? Is that tank cycled? It better be if your going to add in Discus or that could be a costly ending.
Are you injecting CO2? Whats you kH? If your kH is really low, the buffering capacity of the water may be volatile, so the slightest natural buffer could be bottoming out you pH (which is what I am suspecting). You say pH is 8.8 out of the tap??? Check that again.
i sorta answered that question with the substrate, the establishment of the sand and everything could be messing up the cycle. like i said, my discus are perfectly fine, eating and all, aggressively too.
im not injecting CO2
i dont have a KH testing kit. any good kH testers that i should invest in?
i just checked my pH out of my tap. if you wanna get technical, its 8.69 - 8.72
How are you measuring the pH?
HM Digital pH Meter, PH-200
its accurate, thats forsure. my dad uses the same meter for his carwash business. if it wasnt accurate in telling the pH of the soap and water etc etc, we would be out of business, so id trust this over some API kit.
What products have you been putting in your water?
That's the most common way to end up with completely unstable water parameters- add chemicals. Did you neglect PWC (partial water changes) for a long period of time?
I'd get your LFS to verify your test results first.
IMO I'd do lots of small PWC. Say daily 25% for several weeks. If your tap pH truly is 8.8 and your tank pH 4.5 that's going to be the safest way to slowly bring your pH back up. Go quickly and you'll kill your fish.
besides the one time buffer thing, i havent put anything in my tank.
i have been putting "Special Blend" in my tank. its bacteria in a bottle. it starts up the cycle etc etc. ive been putting 20 drops, 1 drop per gallon, everyday for 2 weeks. today is day 6? the owner of OCEAN AQUARIUM in san francisco prescribed it to me. he does the same thing, and his tanks are amazing, so i trust him.
even with small WC's it wont change at all. i tried that before for everyday for weeks straight. the owner that has been helping me is one who told me not to do actual "water changes" but to just add water. his reason was that after 9/11, the government stopped putting bacteria in water that would make it aquarium safe. he even showed me the newspaper article about this.
no test strips, a digital monitor. my other tank that just has sand in it, is at a perfect 7 - 7.2. theres no driftwood in there, so i HIGHLY SUSPECT THAT MY DRIFTWOOD HAS TO DO WITH MY pH DROP!
I agree with Naja002, there might be some problem with you measuring your pH (i.e. perhaps you are using test strips, which are notoriously inaccurate). I find it unusual that your tap water has a pH of 8.8, but your aquarium water has a pH of 4.5.
Also, please do tell us how long your tank has been established. You say that you don't do water changes, and top off whenever the water gets too low. That may also be another problem, as DOCs will eventually build up and can potentially lower your pH.
every so often, i siphon a section of the gravel. that is my small water change. i would not do the whole tank because it would just get rid of all the bacteria? i just do sections and sections.
thanks for all the quick replies. i hope my responses help.