PH and CO2 - do I really just ignore it - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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PH and CO2 - do I really just ignore it

I am getting toward the end of my fishless cycle and approaching stocking time. I'm starting to check my PH. I've never had a true planted tank or CO2 injection before. Now that I do, I feel nervous about the PH swings I see.

Seems like in the morning, my PH is of 7.4 or a bit higher. Once my CO2 is on for a few hours, it falls to 7.0 to 6.8. According to me drop checker, I have the right amount of CO2 in the tank, so I'm hesitant to reduce my input. At the same time, however, I feel nervous for my fish.

When I first started the tank, I added one dose of Alkaline buffer to raise the KH, before reading here that this is considered an act of lunacy. That's probably mostly cleared now, thanks to a 50% WC. I'll also do more WCs before I add fish (to reduce nitrates).

If I'm still seeing this kind of swinging in my PH as my CO2 runs throughout the course of the day, should I be nervous or am I good to go?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:41 PM
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pH is essentially not relevant. pH is an outdated value that was used 30 years ago because access to KH and GH (as well as understanding) was limited. As long as you have appropriate and consistent GH AND KH, you are fine. I've dropped my pH to well below 6 and never had a single problem.

The easiest thing to measure is TDS. Get a TDS meter from ebay and you can really watch what is most important. Quit even testing for pH. It is just a waste of time and money, for the most part.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:42 PM
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that's no problem at all. pH changes caused by co2 will have little to no effect on fish. If this were the case then nobody could keep fish in a planted tank with pressurized co2. What matters more is the TDS of a tank. pH changes caused by the total dissolved solids in your tank is hard on the fish because it can cause osmatic shock to fish. Again pH changes caused by co2 does nothing because co2 has no effect on the TDS. Also you don't want to reduce your nitrates because that's food for your plants. you most likely will add nitates into your tank to provide your plants with enough nutrients to thrive.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:44 PM
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pH changes from CO2 have no effect on livestock since the TDS are not changed in any way. pH will fall about a full degree if you are injecting the proper amount of CO2 but is of absolutely no cause for concern.

Why do you want to reduce nitrates? If you are going to have a planted tank your plants need nitrates to grow. The levels would have to be astronomically high before they would reach a toxic level.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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The fishless cycle walkthrough I found on here recommended big WCs at the end of the fishless cycle to get nitrates below 10 PPM before adding fish. Bad idea?
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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By the way, as long as I'm not messing with buffers anymore (I swear never to do it again), is there anything I need to do to keep my GH and KH "consistent?" Also, is there a thread that sets forth what those values should ideally be and how to raise and lower them?

Thanks.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:50 PM
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What ARE your gh and kh? If using tap water, more often than not, they will do fine in staying consistent. Simply doing regular water changes is what it takes to keep them consistent.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeffnebraska View Post
The fishless cycle walkthrough I found on here recommended big WCs at the end of the fishless cycle to get nitrates below 10 PPM before adding fish. Bad idea?
I think that is more the idea of some other fish keeping. Realistically, you can have nitrates much higher than that and not be anywhere near toxicity. We ADD nitrates to our tanks and once plants start growing you will have a harder time keeping them above 10 than below.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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I think that is more the idea of some other fish keeping. Realistically, you can have nitrates much higher than that and not be anywhere near toxicity. We ADD nitrates to our tanks and once plants start growing you will have a harder time keeping them above 10 than below.
Okay. Should I bother testing my nitrates when I'm done with my fishless cycle? I'm guessing they'll be pretty high. How high is too high for fish?
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:37 PM
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Tom Barr had an auto-dosing snafu that resulted in nitrate levels of over 150 ppm with no affect on fish health.

If you are not using a lab grade test you are basically guessing anyway so ditch the test kit and stop worrying.

If you want an exact amount of nitrate in the water column you can do a huge water change then dose based on given formulas. A certain amount of KNO3 added to X amount of water results in a certain ppm of nitrate. Doesn't matter if the test kit you are using agrees or not.

For instance.... teaspoon of KNO3 will raise 20 gallons of water to 11.25 ppm of nitrates. This is repeatable tank to tank.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:44 PM
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i would suggest not trying to add buffers to your tank. I would just try to stick with your tap water. it's the easiest. You can sometimes run into problems if your KH is 1 degree but most of the time it's best to just stick with what you got the plants won't care and it makes it easier on your fish in the long run.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:45 PM
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Heres a quick tip to save you some fish $$. Turn off your Co2 for a few hours before adding your fish if they came from a non Co2 tank. They will not be acclimated to the levels of Co2 in your tank and you'll gas them. Over the period of a few days, slowly increase your BPS and the fish will have time to acclimate just fine.

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Heres a quick tip to save you some fish $$. Turn off your Co2 for a few hours before adding your fish if they came from a non Co2 tank. They will not be acclimated to the levels of Co2 in your tank and you'll gas them. Over the period of a few days, slowly increase your BPS and the fish will have time to acclimate just fine.
Yipes. Hadn't heard that one. I'll have no CO2 on the day they arrive, then slowly build back to 1-2 bps.

Not sure how quickly my overall levels will fall, but I'd rather have the plants have too little than the fish has too much.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 10:14 PM
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Heres a quick tip to save you some fish $$. Turn off your Co2 for a few hours before adding your fish if they came from a non Co2 tank. They will not be acclimated to the levels of Co2 in your tank and you'll gas them. Over the period of a few days, slowly increase your BPS and the fish will have time to acclimate just fine.
Totally agree with this...

Once I brought home 2 schools of cories and spent a couple of hours drip acclimating them. When I released them into the tank I was looking forward to seeing them schooling and doing the happy cory dance, instead the first sterbai went belly up in less than 30 seconds. I got them all out of the tank before any harm was done but learned a valuable lesson. Since then I always turn off CO2 and let it gas out before adding any fish and then back off the bubble count and ramp up again slowly.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 01:49 PM
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Totally agree with this...

Once I brought home 2 schools of cories and spent a couple of hours drip acclimating them. When I released them into the tank I was looking forward to seeing them schooling and doing the happy cory dance, instead the first sterbai went belly up in less than 30 seconds. I got them all out of the tank before any harm was done but learned a valuable lesson. Since then I always turn off CO2 and let it gas out before adding any fish and then back off the bubble count and ramp up again slowly.
I did the same thing with Rummynose tetras. I spent an hour acclimating them then dumped them in. They instantly went upside down flailing around in the water. I quickly figured out that an instant CO2 bath isn't good on fish.
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