water chemistry help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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water chemistry help

Hi all

I just did a complete test of my water for the first time, and dispite doing a ton of reading, here and and on other sites, Im still a bit confused.
Im not sure if the GH test was correct seemed a little unreliable.
here are my readings

KH =1
PH =6.6
NH3/NH4 =1
NO2 =0.5
NO3 =20-30
GH =14

if anyone could help me out with what exactly this means and also how I should correct the readings it would be greatly appreciated

also I just picked up a Red Sea turbo CO2 Bio system, is that a good system for a 10G tank? hope I didnt just buy a piece of junk

many thanks in advance
Jack
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 01:14 AM
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Hi there, the readings suggest that the tank is not yet cycled. Ammonia (NH3/NH4) and nitrite (NO2) should be 0 in a fully cycled tank. If you have fish in the tank, they won't survive long at these levels.

Is this a new tank? Please give more information about your tank ... fish load, plants, how long has it been set up, etc., so that appropriate suggestions can be made.

If this is a new tank, the readings are correct, and you can't relocate the fish to an established tank, you need to do an immediate large water change, followed by daily partial water change. Keep monitoring. Depending on how new the tank is, it may take a few weeks for it to cycle.

Again, more information about your tank would help.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for the quick reply hydro

the tank has been running for about 2 months, and is pretty heavily planted with all kinds of things, swords, dwarf sag, ludg, cobomba, anubias, java fern (almost dead? dont know why) and some other random stuff.

I have some lame whisper 20 in-tank filter and a standard 15w grow light, but Im planning on getting a new light from AH supply (any suggestions) and a canister filter soon.

I have 2 blue rams, 2 hachet fish, and one lone cardinal (some how he lived, the rest dies immediatly)

if you'd like to see a photo, you can view it here:
http://www.jackdakin.com/tank.jpg

should I do a water change ASAP?

I should also add that Im not having the best luck, and have been losing fish left and right

thanks for the help
Jack
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 01:53 AM
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A new tank should not show any NH3/NH4 after a few weeks, just NO2(A heavily planted tank may not show any of those from the beginning, but that is another topic). In less than two months, NO2 should also drop to zero, leaving only NO3. And you still have high NH3/NH4 at two months? something is wrong. I am surprised some of your fish are ok, oh you did say you are losing fish left and right. You probably either have too many fish in the tank or insufficient filter/plant growth. You really need to figure out why the tank is not cycled yet, or more fish will certainly die.


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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
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wow, now Im getting nervous
I suppose I should do a water change right now!
yes?
what do you think the problem is, what should I do to fix this
thanks
Jack
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 02:12 AM
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I would do heavy water change daily, that's how I prevented my goldfish from dying with my first aquarium. Add water conditioner(for example Prime) with water change. Monitor NH3/NH4 frequently. Feed your fish VERY sparingly before your tank is cycled.

Did you often wash your filter bag with untreated tap water? That would kill the good bacteria and prolong the cycle. Don't wash it unless it is really dirty and use tank water when you do wash.

I heard NYC water is soft, so your kh=1 is no surprise. Your GH is suspect, I agee, probably much lower, closer to 1 than 18. I had a BAD GH kit before, will not change color correctly, bought a new kit and it worked. Normally I would recommend using something like baking soda to increase KH to 3-4 to prevent ph crash, but you currently have high ammonia. Ammonia is more toxic with high ph, and higher kh increase ph, so I would not increase kh for now.


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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 02:17 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for the quick help, Im about to do a heavy water change right now, will keep you updated.

I have recently cleaned and changed the filter pad, and really cleaned the filter heavily with tap water, this may be the cause of my problems

btw, what 18" light set-up do you think I should get from AH supply?

I have a hunch that the GH kit I got doesnt work, really very little color indication when I tested

Ill let you guys know the outcome

Jack

p.s. another thought, its has been reaalllllllyyyy reeeaaaalllllly HOT here for the last few days and my water temp has been out of control high, like offf the temp meter hot, 90's I suspect. could this be a reason for my water problems?
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 02:23 AM
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Yes, I recommend doing a large water change immediately, daily testing of NH3/NH4 and NO2 (don't worry about the other tests for now), and daily partial water change to keep these levels as low as possible. Large water changes won't hurt the fish; just try to match temperature and decholorinate.

In the mean time, you still need to determine why the tank is not cycled after two months. Perhaps it's a combination of things -- you added too many fish too quickly, added plants too slowly, weak filter (how big is your tank?), etc., but you can sort that out later. Water change to lower the ammonia and nitrite levels is the first priority.

Hope this helps.

Edit: you posted while I was typing. Don't clean your filter with tap water (chlorine will kill the good bateria). I'm not familiar with the whisper filter, but I suspect you got rid of all the bacteria by changing the filter pad. Just rinse it in the tank water you change out.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 02:28 AM Thread Starter
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my tank is a ten gallon, and yes I have been buying tons and tons of fish, only to have them die, very upset about that.
but I have also had the tank heavily planted since the get go.
maybe the filter I have isnt cutting the mustard, its an in-tank whisper 20, pretty lame if you ask me, Im thinking Im going to buy a canister filter soon (any suggestions on that as well?)

you guys rule for helping me out in such record time
let me know your thoughts

Jack
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 03:00 AM Thread Starter
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ok, I just changed about 3/4 of the water in the tank, hoping that will help.
should I check the waters chemistry right now or wait til tommorow?
also should I add ferts, trace elements, etc?

thanks again guys
Jack

update: just rechecked the water, readings are as follows
NH3/4=0.35
NO2=0.25
NO3=10

so the water change seems to have helped, I will continue 1/4 water changes through out the next week

thanks for help guys
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 06:03 AM
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Glad to see the levels dropping. Continue with daily water changes (try 50%) and monitor the levels. If the levels do not go down further, don't be afraid to do more or larger water changes.

Also feed sparingly as shalu has suggested. Try feeding only a small amount every other day or even every 3 days if necessary.

Healthy plant growth will improve ammonia uptake so I see no problem with adding ferts. Keep in mind though you will be wasting some ferts during this period since you will be changing the water daily. If that's not an issue, then I don't see a problem.

Good luck with your fish.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 12:41 PM
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the fact that you have ammonia/nitrite readings is probably due to two things:

1) Low levels of beneficial bacteria. This is probably due to washing the filter with tapwater, in addition to the filter possibly being inadequate. Also, as I recall, higher temperatures cause the metabolic processes of bacteria to slow down, slowing their uptake of ammonia/nitrites. Again, leave whatever filter pads you have in the tank, I wouldn't even rinse at all! Might help to add some aged, colonized gravel in the filter too, speed up the process.
2) Poor plant growth. Over the past months, have the plants GROWN much? Or are they merely "sustaining"? Seems to me that they need more light, then think about ferts/CO2. When you provide these things they will eat up that ammonia/nitrites first thing! I don't have experience with AH supply, but another strip light would probably help (you didn't say what light you DO have?) For a 10 gallon, would consider adding Excel for carbon source (but maybe not if doing 50% PWCs)

Canister: seems overkill for a 10-gallon, but maybe they make some small enough. . . check out ebay for sure.

Also, the hot temps would contribute to fish deaths.

HTH, and good job on the water changes! That will probably help you the most at this point.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for all your help guys, yes its been very very hot, so I think that could be part of the problem.

also in response to the question about how my plants are doing, some are doing ..."ok" but most are doing poorly and deteriating, or just doing nothing at all.

I am well aware of the lighting issue and plan to deal with that ASAP. do you think two 15w strips will be enough to really kick butt? (I only have one now, clearly not enough)

for now though, I have a new problem, as I mentioned before yesterday I installed a CO2 system from red sea. well this morning when the tank timer switched on so did the CO2. long story short I had read it takes 24hrs for the mixture to start creating CO2. well it has!! has it ever! my PH is down from 6.6 to most likely lower than 6 (the color doesnt even read againszt the chart) I turned down the flow on the powerhead, I hope this helps.

what should I do about this?, Im scared my fish will soon be floaters (although they seem fine now)

plantedtank.net rox the box, thank you guys
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 10:41 PM
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now you really need to add baking soda to increase kh to 3-4(and do so with every water change), or you will kill your fish with ph being too low. It's tough isn't it, too much NH3 kills fish, too low a ph also kills fish, but hang in there, it will work out eventually.


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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
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thanks shalu
ok, so I did another partial water change about 30% of the tank. happy to report ammonia levels are coming close to zero. still havent done a nitrite or nitrate test, but I will in the morning.
I also added some backing soda and it pushed my KH up to 2, I suppose I should keep adding the baking soda a little at a time until i'm at KH=4, is this correct?
also PH seems to be stablizing and is back up to about 6.1, which I suppose is still way to low, but at least its on its way up.
my only fear is that you guys metioned that the PH would swing in both directions, I hope Im not about to have a major swing upwards. I'll be keeping a very close eye on that for the next couple days. I suppose this weekend I need to work out as solution for my lighting, as my plants really wont benifit that much from the CO2 if I doint have good lights.
Im still wondering If I should just buy another standard strip, so that I will have 2x15 watt lighting, do you think that is good enough, or should really shell out the cash for a superdooper light?

many thanks as always
Jack
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