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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2003, 05:56 AM Thread Starter
 
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I currently have a 40gal tank with Discus. My PH is 5.4 and is very soft (haven't yet bought a test kit). I have a number of sword plants that have stopped growing but are otherwise ok. Trying to find the best way to raise my PH gradually to about 6.5-6.7 and keep it there. I run an airstone, and do 15% water changes weekly with tap(alkaline >7.8) water.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2003, 02:16 PM
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If your tap water is above 7.8 then why is your tank water at 5.4? Have you used any sort of chemical buffers to lower it? Is it RO water? YOu will need to know the gH and kH (general hardness and carbonate hardness) before you proceed. Also you are going to have to do this very slowly otherwise your discus are really going to hate you. Discus can take water with a higher pH and hardness but they really dislike change. The first thing that we need to know is how is your tank water getting such a low pH.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2003, 05:20 PM
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5.4 is really low even for discus, but like Rex said as long as you raise it slowly, things should be fine... If you are using RO water it would be good to mix some of it with tap water...

-Tim

Tank in transition! 55 gallons, hard water.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2003, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
 
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I'm not using RO just tap water. The tank is about a year old started at ph 7. I got a real shock my PH was that low, my test kit only goes down to 6 and I thought it would not be much lower than that. Luckily my girlfriend can test it to .01 at her work.
Will buy KH and GH test kit asap and post my results.

Thanks for the speedyy replies.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 05:06 AM
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Hmm.... if you are doing 15% weekly water changes I don't see how your pH would drop that low without assistance. And IMHO 15% a week is a very small water change for a discus tank. Are you injecting CO2 on this tank? Is there peat in the filter? Something is driving the pH so low.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
 
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No CO2, no peat. I know 15% is less than what I should do but given the difference between my tap and tank water I don't want to change alot at once (also I suffer from lazyness). I hope to change more water as the discus get bigger and when I can get the water parameters back up.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 07:07 AM
 
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Do your Discus have dark bands on them?

I'd be very careful. You could wipe out your tank by raising the pH. At pH below 6, the bacteria that process ammonia "go crazy" (the technical term the biologist who told me this used) and stop processing ammonia. Also at very low pH, ammonia is not nearly as toxic to the fish as it becomes when the pH goes up.

Use ammonia & nitrite test kits to see where these levels are now. Is is possible that you have very high ammonia levels and that the only thing that is protecting your fish is the fact that the pH is so very low. It is also possible that you have very high nitrate and/or phosphate levels (which Discus don't like).

If you find ANY ammonia/nitrite, I'd suggest the following:

Get some "discus buffer" or "Amazon acidifier" (something to lower pH that is specifically used in Discus tanks that doesn't contain phosphates).

If you can find it, get some Bio-Spira by Marineland or TurboStart #700 from Fritz.

Mix up some fresh dechlorinated water in another tank or even in a large plastic bucket with a heater in it and use the buffer to lower the pH to no more than 5.7 to 5.9. This may be difficult as the pH will lower initially and then tend to rebound upward after a couple of hours depending on the hardness of your water.

Once you have the pH stable in the temporary tank/bucket, put your fish in it.

Remove all the water from your tank and replace with fresh, dechlorinated tap water.

Use more buffer to lower the pH of the new water to the same as the pH of the water in the fishes' temporary home. Watch out for pH rebound here too. When the pH of the fresh water in the tank is stable, put the fish back in the main tank.

Now you can begin to raise the pH slowly on the main tank by doing small partial water changes with dechlorinatred but un-buffered tap water. When you get it above 6.0, put in the Bio-Spira or Turbo-Start to quickly re-establish your bacteria colonies. With the new fresh water in the tank, it will probably take much less tap water to make the pH go up than it used to, so be careful.

Many Discus enthusiasts recommend 50% water changes TWICE A WEEK to keep the fish happy. They really don't like even very low levels or nitrate/phosphate... which is why lots of plants can be so great for a Discus tank, BTW.

In the future when you do partial water changes, you will need to get something like a large plastic trash can and mix up your tap water with the proper amount of "Discus Buffer" to get the pH of the replacement water down to the same as the pH of the tank.... and you will need to do much larger changes than 15% a week to keep the Discus happy.... although if you have a lot of plants, you probably won't need to do two 50% changes a week - as is recommended for bare Discus tanks.

The softness of the water is only an issue if you are trying to breed the Discus. Otherwise, they should be fine in relatively hard (but still acitic) water.

If your Discus had dark bands on them, the bands should be gone a few days after this procedure and the fish should be acting MUCH happier!

Discus are wonderful fish. I love them. But it can be a lot of work to keep them happy.

Best of Luck...

Tim
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
 
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My Discus are very happy/heathly at the moment(In fact always have been), bright eyes, bright colour, gaining size and always begging for food. The fact that they are so healthy is probably the reason why I let things get this far. I actually posted because my plants were not doing as well as they have been not because my fish were unhappy.
I also have 7 congo tetras, a pair of rams, 2 bristlenose and five cory cats and haven't had a problem with any of them.
I'm very hesitant to change thing too much, and would like to be as unevasive as possible.
also my ammonia nitrite/nitrate? test is crystal clear but I will test it more often (I didn't think about it changing with the PH).
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 03:28 PM
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I'm starting to question your pH test kit. Don't ask me why but I am.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2003, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
 
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Could be, although my test kit only goes down to 6.0 so any reading just comes out yellow. The reading of 5.4 was from my girlfriend's work (she's a lab technician for Caltex) so can only assume that is right. I'll give her another sample as I've only had one test from there so far. Should have my kh/ch test kit by tonight so that should give us more to go on. Thks for sticking with me on this.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2003, 04:17 AM Thread Starter
 
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PH is now 5.2
KH is 1-2 (which is ridiculouisly low)
The next step I assume is to slowly raise the KH to a point where it is still considered soft and use this to slowly bring the ph back up above six? I assume with a KH so low any atempt to just raise the PH with rebound back down again?
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2003, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
 
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I've managed to get my PH back up to 6 in the last week without causing the discus any noticable stress. I'll keep pushing the PH up till I get to 6.5-6.6 and try to harden my water a little to improve the buffering. The LFS tells me Sydney has the third softest water of all major cities worldwide. Don't know how true this is but my tap water has a KH of 5.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2003, 12:54 AM
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I can beat that hands down. My tap water has a kH of less than one and a gH of less than one.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2003, 05:40 AM
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Yup, same here in Aloha, OR (outskirts of Portland, OR.) But after a few days in the tank it stabilizes at about KH 2-3, GH 3-4. Haven't had a problem with pH bouncing, it's stable at about 7.2. In fact, I'd be happy if it were just a little lower--I guess I need some peat. I have quite a bit of driftwood in the tank, which lowers it about .2 or so, but I do 30% (at least) water changes 2x/week so it just comes back up again.

South American fishies do quite well in very soft/very acidic water. No so great for your plants of course, but it has been suggested (often!) that discus in very acidic water are much healthier because the diseases that plague them can't survive in acid conditions. Of course your other Amazonians like the same type of water.

Do you use driftwood or some type of Amazon-type water conditioner? Some of these drop the pH too. If you have much driftwood in your tank, with your small water changes it could impact the pH that much. With your KH at 5 now, things should be reasonably stable.

Stacey
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2003, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
 
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I half suspected the LFS was talking out his....
In answer to your question, no amazon conditioner, I do have two medium size pieces of driftwood however they are hardwood so I don't think they are much of a problem. My PH is now back in the range of my test kit and my plants are looking beter so I think it's problem solved, now time to get some rummynose tetras...
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