water chemistry for idiots-me! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-12-2014, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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water chemistry for idiots-me!

Hi, lessons learned, I hope, from my water chemistry (mis)adventures. My first 80g low tech planted tank, thought I did all the research, especially on this site where many of you had so much knowledge. I have hard tap water, 8dGH, 8.4pH so I thought I would use a water filter which got it down to about 7dGH and pH of 7.4, 4dKH. All good, I thought! RO for water top off to keep GH from climbing. Match GH to fish, keep stable KH, don't chase pH. LFS said most fish are local bred and can adapt to my GH.

So, my water seemed to quickly climb to 11dGH and KH dropped, pH stayed at 7.4 (so I thought) so still ok. I did not realize pH at night was up to 8.4 and killed too many fish. Treated with melafix and ich guard. You all watched my posts!

Now I need to be sure I REALLY understand; test pH regularly am and pm, use RO mix in water changes to keep dGH 8-11, ideally keeping dKH at 4 (going to try Seachem Aquavitro KH line (as it potentially has minimal affect on pH-but I will watch this). No meds until water is perfect. Am I missing anything? Should I also test TDS regularly?

I am going to wait at least 2 weeks for everything to stabilize before adding any fish.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-12-2014, 09:16 PM
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You can add peat to your filter media to soften water and keep it a little more stable not sure why your ph is jumping that much at night your aim is to keep it as simple as posable with out adding tons of chemicals most fish unless wild caught can adapt to a higher or lower ph from what they say is ideal it just has to be consistent they can't handle big ph swings driftwood in tank will also lower ph
What kind of fish are you looking to keep ? What are you trying to get your ph too?
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-12-2014, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnighttide102 View Post
You can add peat to your filter media to soften water and keep it a little more stable not sure why your ph is jumping that much at night your aim is to keep it as simple as posable with out adding tons of chemicals most fish unless wild caught can adapt to a higher or lower ph from what they say is ideal it just has to be consistent they can't handle big ph swings driftwood in tank will also lower ph
What kind of fish are you looking to keep ? What are you trying to get your ph too?
Hi, my pH swing was from about 7.4 in am to 8.4 in pm, too much!!! I have rummynose, harlequin raspbora, furcata rainbow, cory; want to add angels, dwarf appistogramma (all captive bred). I would like to keep pH lower than 7.4. I have driftwood, will try a small amount of peat, but don't want too brown water!
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-12-2014, 10:15 PM
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Smile Data! Data! Data! We Must Have Data!

Hi,

I am sure you are not an idiot… Though, I have been wrong before…


I think you may be dealing with a situation that is out of the ordinary.

If you would like help, try to keep this post self-contained so we have the information here. Nothing introduced as a surprise from another thread or site.

From the beginning, tell us about your tank, particular attention to information about the tank, size lighting, and critters, plants, how long, so no.

Tell us about water parameters, tap and tank, try to avoid slang or acronyms, how you know what you know, if you do not know something that is okay, say so.

Respectfully,
Joe
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If your Guru tells you otherwise and you are true believer that is okay I will not argue the point.
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I pretty much limit what I say to things that anyone can easily verify from recognized references or by direct observation. If it is my opinion I say so.


Last edited by JoeRoun; 11-12-2014 at 10:16 PM. Reason: Title
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-12-2014, 10:22 PM
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I've keep and breed angelfish for years in the beginning I played the ph game trying to keep my water at 7 worrying they wouldn't breed for me if ph was high it becomes a real headache in the end my water was about 8.2 and I had no prob breeding them in that water the fish get use to the ph but like I said you can't have big swings in ph they can't handle that at all I use to use peat pellets in a bag I forget who makes them but they didn't turn my water brown but in the end I gave into what my water wanted to be it made it much less stressful doing water changes on 40 tanks I can't te you what or why your ph is jumping so high at night but hopefully someone here might chime in that's the most important thing to get under control or it def going to continue fish loss that's a big jump
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-12-2014, 11:12 PM
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If push turns into shove on this one and it turns out more effort than
it's worth to get it to change permanently...I read a post on here a year
or so back where the OP suggested you not try to change the PH, but rather to focus only on fish that normally inhabit water with your PH level.
Said he found it make life far more simple.
BTW: +1 for JoeRoun
It sure doesn't seem normal so following his suggestions may lead to a reason that can be corrected.
In any event...those store bought PH "buffers" WON'T permanently change the
PH when there is something in the tank which is causing the PH to rise.
Whatever that is(if it exist) needs to be removed first.
A simple example of: Crushed Coral mixed in the sub. You may be thinking "Yea but I need that because..."
But...you also have the side effects along/w it.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-12-2014, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeRoun View Post
Hi,

I am sure you are not an idiot… Though, I have been wrong before…


I think you may be dealing with a situation that is out of the ordinary.

If you would like help, try to keep this post self-contained so we have the information here. Nothing introduced as a surprise from another thread or site.

From the beginning, tell us about your tank, particular attention to information about the tank, size lighting, and critters, plants, how long, so no.

Tell us about water parameters, tap and tank, try to avoid slang or acronyms, how you know what you know, if you do not know something that is okay, say so.

Respectfully,
Joe
FBTB
Yikes, here it is; hopefully no acronyms (I am always trying to keep posts short -
Innovative Marine SR80 (80 gallon) 48x18x16 has 2- 476gph pumps with overflow filter, good surface movement, but not filtering at bottom of tank. I added 2 airstones on timers and small water movement pump near bottom.
Eco-xotic LED light, eco-complete with Carib-sea sand foreground, malaysian driftwood-not too heavy with open areas, 3 small slate rocks (did not bubble with vinegar) low tech (Excel), Seachem ferts, mod to high number of plants which are all doing great, UV.
I just tested filtered water-at 9dGH, 4-5dKH, 8.8 pH. These have changed from when I started; hmm, I am going to change out the filters even though they are only 3 months old. Our city water is notorious for not being the best for fish according to my LFS. Tank is 10dGH, 4dKH, 7.4 pH in am and now 7.8 in pm (started using more RO water). Using new API test kit. Tested oxygen a week ago and got a reading of 6ppm at night and 8ppm in am. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, temp at 76.4.
Started fishless cycle on 9-16. Currently have 5 corys, 2 harlequin raspbora, 1 furcata rainbow, 7 rummynose. Helpful?! I have posted on other threads and you have responded (thank you)! Just want to be sure I am not missing anything now as I may have it under better control by using more RO water, I think!!!! I am using an aquarium maintenance app so I keep pretty careful notes. The test results can be tricky to read however! PS - I do not let water sit before testing pH; should I?
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 01:13 AM
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Water that has been enclosed (such as in pipes) should be allowed to sit before testing the pH.

Some water is lacking CO2, so the pH will be quite high right out of the tap, then comes down as the water absorbs CO2 from the air. This happens faster if you circulate the water with a small pump or bubbler, or just stir the water by hand as often as you pass by.

Some water is fairly high in CO2, and will test a low pH when you first run it out of the tap, but, on sitting, loses a lot of the CO2 to the air. This will make the pH rise. If you just sat a glass of water on the counter I would test the pH after 24 hours, then again after 48 hours, just to be sure. If you can circulate the water in any way then you can test sooner.

Tank water: Plants add CO2 to the water through the night, so in the AM, before lights come on, the pH will be low. Through the day the plants remove the CO2, so the pH rises. By the end of the day it can be quite high.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You have already heard from a local expert at the fish store that your local water is not particularly good for fish.
Since your goal is soft water fish that do not do well with variable water I would start using more and more RO, get away from tap water.

Use RO, add just the right amounts of minerals to keep the most difficult fish happy, and the others you list ought to be just fine.
RO filters do not do so well when the water is high in calcium. I would use a prefilter on the system, perhaps a sodium exchange water softener. Get the GH way down so the RO membrane lasts longer. It can deal with sodium better than calcium.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks again Diana, you are the best at helping me continue to learn. So I will let my tap/filter water sit and then test pH, I did not know that. So it is true that fish, in general, can adapt to a different pH, but it is the swing from morning to night that is causing problems? PS - I just read your suggestion on my other thread; I printed it out and will do that!
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 03:04 PM
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Did you do the vinegar test on the Carib-sea sand? If you got something meant for cichlids it might have aragonite in it. That stuff is even stronger than crushed coral for keeping the pH high.

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 10:45 PM
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Diana I heard that it was the other way around for the membrane, I thought salt was worse for them.

Maybe I need to replumb my ro unit..
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 10:55 PM
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what I found interesting was the ph variance in the tank, that occurs even after a 24 hour test gassing period from a water sample. it appears co2 is originating within the tank but I cant find how or where, none of the components are particularly gassy

I had pondered the idea off RHF article about home heating creating a co2 accumulation, rare but possible. its the farthest reaching variable I could think of to account for his use of an airstone lessening his ph variance from night to day

small old reef tank:

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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 11:24 PM
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1. Aragonite sand will leach Calcium increasing GH over time. Should become less over time.

2. Have you retested Amon/nitrite/nitrates after medicating the tank? Meds can easily crash your biofilter, recycle the tank, and kill everything.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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I do live in a place with an older furnace. I just want to find a balance and not kill fish! PS-did not get cichlid sand; still have the bag. Ann Arbor city water is high in pH, but when I filtered it I was getting initially getting 7.4. Now it is almost 8.2. Could they be changing it from morning to night?
So as Diana suggested, I mixed filtered water with RO to get a dGH of 5, matched dKH, but pH was 8.2 increasing to 8.8. I have it aerated and will check again tomorrow. If it keeps a stable KH is that ok to use regardless of the pH? Arghhh.........
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-14-2014, 02:44 AM
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Calcium carbonate from reef sand is a base thereby raising your pH while also raising GH. Beneficial in reef tanks, not so in planted tank. Given volume of sand, handful of peat will not likely offset.
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