Do Plants affect KH? and other questions - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Do Plants affect KH? and other questions

Hi guys,

First time poster here so please be gentle

Love the site... learned a lot! but still have a few questions.... Sorry for the extremely long post... but I believe in details....

I have a 125G planted tank with the following Flora:

Aponogeton ulvaceus
Sword Var. rose
Amazon Sword
Anacharis
Dwarf Hairgrass
Phillipine Java Fern
Riccia fluitans
Giant Red Rotala
Java Moss
Radican Marble Queen

And the following Fauna:

7 Bosemani's
6 Wanamensis
3 Congo Tetra's
3 Roseline sharks
8 Harlequins
4 Turqouise Blues
5 Praecox
10 OTO's
20 Amano Shrimps

And the following hardware:

DIY light 4 - 105W CFL's (6500K / 6900 lumens) 8 hrs a day
Pressurized CO2 w SMS122 Controller
Slate rock from a local stone yard
Fluval FX5 Filter


Aquarium Parameters:

PH - 6.9
KH - 7.0
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 5
temp - 80 to 81 degrees
GH - ? ( can never get a reading with the GH kit that comes with the AP test kit - it never reaches it's green endpoint) But with a test strip it shows GH being soft

Here is the reason for this post:

My KH keeps on dropping a couple of degrees every couple of days. I have to use baking soda to bring my KH back to 7.0... A month back I had the light off for a couple of days b/c I was painting the hood.... needless to say that cost me 3 roselines 4 Wanamensis, 6 male Bosemanis, 2 congos, 2 praecox, and 2 harlequins, and 30 Amano shrimps... the rest were gasping for air up top.... I consider myself as an optimist... but this definitely put my optimism to the test .... Since this painful incident I have introduced O2 at night time for 14 hours....

I do a weekly water change (1/4 water)... and test my parameters every time I see my fish stressed, and on a weekly basis.... My rainbows seem to be gasping... they don't go to the surface... they just sit around gasping... Some of them have ulcers...and a couple of the bosemanis have this whitish looking stuff on their mouth... it might be from stress? They are very active feeders... I feed them brine shrimp... flake food, Vegeterian flake food, ADA's AP2, and AP3... there is no Algae issue...

I see that every time I do a water change... they are happier... I went to my LFS and he advised to switch out the Slate.. That maybe that is causing the KH problem.... to use prime as a de-chlorinator, introduce salt.

I did a quarter water change last night... and put in prime... I haven't checked on my fish today as I am at work... but they seemed to be happy last night... I also have two female praecox that look bloated... They are either pregnant or have dropsy... how can you tell the difference?

So I went to my stone yard to p/u different kind of stone... he had what he called mountain onyx. He did tell me that the LFS and aquarists come and p/u this mountain onyx for their aquariums, but advised me to check with a LFS. I took a sample to my LFS and he said that he uses onyx all the time...

I bought 90 lbs worth of mountain onyx and ran an apple cider vinegar test on it... It fizzes... So I am assuming this $100 worth of mountain onyx is either a very expensive door stop... or I can put it in my aquarium to replace the slate... so it can help raise the low KH?

One thing I forgot to mention are my tap water numbers after a 24 hour bucket time:

PH 10.0
KH 10.0
GH ? couldn't get a reading....


So here is a recap of the questions I have after this marathon session:

1. Can moderate/heavy planted tank leech KH?
2. Can slate cause KH to drop 2 degrees every couple of days?
3. Can I use Mountain Onyx in my aquarium to replace slate?
4. Why are my fish gasping?
5. How do I tell if my fish have fish gill disease that might be causing the
gasping?
6. Should I leave the air pump running 24 hours instead of 14?
7. The female praecox – how to tell if they have dropsy or are pregnant?


P.S.

Off topic... MY LFS told me... that if my fish have disease then I can raise the temperature up to 90 degrees for up to four days... and that will kill any fungus or disease....

I have a praecox that had a serious case of fungus on it. One if its fin was clamped b/c of the fungus and there was a whitish spot on the other side. So I took the praecox out and put it in a 20 gallon quarantine tank (kind of quarantine b/c I have guppies in it) and cranked up the temp. to 90 degrees. I was registering temps up to 90.2... Lo and behold... the fungus was gone in 3 days... the fin was back to normal... and the fish was swimming like speedy Gonzales... I turned the heater off at the end of the 4th day and put the fish back in the 125G the fifth day... and this fish seems to be the healthiest of all.... It worked in my case... has anyone else done this?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 05:20 PM
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Fluctuating water parms, unknown contamination, etc - there are a multitude of things that can cause fish to be unhealthy.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bimini07
One thing I forgot to mention are my tap water numbers after a 24 hour bucket time:

PH 10.0
KH 10.0
GH ? couldn't get a reading....
Are you sure about those numbers?? If it is, then I think your tap is the problem with those parameters if you ask me.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ashappar View Post
welcome to the site!

maybe I missed it in the details, but what is your substrate?

If I may say my 2 cents on KH - dont worry about it. I have run near zero KH for a long time, fish are healthy, they breed, inverts are fine, plants love it.

Fluctuating water parms, unknown contamination, etc - there are a multitude of things that can cause fish to be unhealthy.
I missed listing the substrate... I am using AquaSoil Amazonia II and Amazonia I... One bag of each and a total of 6 bags.

I also have driftwood in this setup that came from a LFS.

Any suggestions on the Mountain Onyx?

What else can I do?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by deicide View Post
Agreed.



Are you sure about those numbers?? If it is, then I think your tap is the problem with those parameters if you ask me.
Yep... these numbers are correct.. I was surprised too!

Can I use filtered water instead? I just bought and installed a 10 stage filter for our drinking needs from Enviro Products... would that water be better?

Thx
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bimini07 View Post
Yep... these numbers are correct.. I was surprised too!

Can I use filtered water instead? I just bought and installed a 10 stage filter for our drinking needs from Enviro Products... would that water be better?

Thx
Yes but still not as good as RO/DI water Or Distilled water.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 06:13 PM
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Aquasoil will lower your KH, I've read.

Some plants like Vals for instance are able to split carbonates and use this as a CO2 source which lowers the KH and raises the pH. You don't have any listed, though.

Onyx Sand and Onyx Gravel will increase KH and pH. Seachem markets "Onyx Sand" 2 ways. Onyx Sand™ is for a planted aquarium. The other product is called Gray Coast™ Calcite and it is used as a marine substrate. Both of them are the exact same product according to Seachem. The only differences are the bags and the bag sizes.

http://www.seachem.com/products/prod...yx%20Sand.html

http://www.seachem.com/products/prod...GrayCoast.html

If you are using the API GH test kit, it's hard for me to judge the color change. It's subtle. API's KH test kit is fine.

I use Hagen's GH/KH kit. The color changes, especially the GH kit, are more distinct because they use different reagents. They measure in ppm (mg/L) instead of dH though.

I also use Lamotte's Alkalinity test kit too. It turns 3 different colors for the start point, end point and past the end point.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 06:25 PM
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Your pH is 10? Seriously? I agree- if that reading is correct you've got some seriously out of wack water. Sounds like you've got some TDS that precipitate out over time, too, and this is causing your water parameters to fluctuate even more with your attempting to alter them.

Something is not right with readings of a 10pH, 7kH and a "soft" gH... either those readings are incorrect, or you have the perfect water for Sulawesi shrimp- in which case you need to sell all your current livestock, invest in Sulawesi shrimp, and start raking in tons and tons of $$$.

I think you need to get your test results verified at your LFS.

It's likely you'll need to go with RO/DI water it those results are correct and you want to keep fish alive.





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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
Your pH is 10? Seriously? I agree- if that reading is correct you've got some seriously out of wack water. Sounds like you've got some TDS that precipitate out over time, too, and this is causing your water parameters to fluctuate even more with your attempting to alter them.

Something is not right with readings of a 10pH, 7kH and a "soft" gH... either those readings are incorrect, or you have the perfect water for Sulawesi shrimp- in which case you need to sell all your current livestock, invest in Sulawesi shrimp, and start raking in tons and tons of $$$.

I think you need to get your test results verified at your LFS.

It's likely you'll need to go with RO/DI water it those results are correct and you want to keep fish alive.

Hi,

I am trying to maintain my tank parameters at 7KH and 6.9 PH. My tapwater reading was 10KH and 10PH. Last night I left some water in a bucket.. so I could test the Mountain onyx... and see how does it affect my water parameters.

I am going to go home and test the waters for KH PH first to see if I had the numbers wrong last time or maybe something caused it to throw off numbers like that.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2008, 07:13 PM
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I think what's happening is that you're suffocating your fish with CO2. You mentioned using Aquasoil, which will lower your KH over time. This isn't a bad thing, but it is throwing off your CO2 controller. Here's what I believe to be going on:

When you perform a water change on your tank, you're effectively 'setting' the initial levels--all is good. Over the next 3-5 days, your KH is dropping and your CO2 controller is pumping in more CO2. You would think that the pH would drop as well and shut it off. Well, yes and no. When you lower your KH, the pH doesn't always follow; what's happening is the lower KH levels is allowing the CO2 to dissolve much easier into the water. This is a good thing for plants, but not so much for fish. The pH will eventually catch up, but not fast enough for fish. This is where people get confused about the CO2 chart and why the chart isn't very effective. I had the opposite effect using a substrate (Seachem's Onyx) when trying get enough CO2 into the water. The KH kept raising, making it more difficult day by day to get enough CO2 into the water.

The cure: There are several ways to approach this. Ideally, the lower the KH the better, but it needs to be stable. pH doesn't matter, so don't worry about it. For now, I would discontinue using your CO2 controller and either run CO2 24/7 or use the solenoid to shut it off at night. Perform your water change (or leave things be), and find out how long it takes for the KH to drop to its lowest level and remains stable--you'll want to test KH daily and chart it on a post-it or something. It can even be at zero, but I suspect it will reach 3-5dKH and stop. At this point, things are stable. You can set your bubble rate on your CO2 system and not worry when leaving for work.

The tricky part is this: water changes. A time will come when you need to do some maintenance and change some water. When you use tap water, your KH will rise again, and chances are, you'll see some algae because the higher KH will make it more difficult to dissolve CO2 into the water. So, you can note the amount of water you changed and the level the KH raised to, and increase the CO2. Now of course, you know what's going to happen--the KH lowers and you'll OD your fish on CO2. You'll need to adjust your CO2 daily. If you've charted it all, you can predict things from day to day as long as you've kept things stable. I think you see where I'm going with this.

The good news is, eventually the Aquasoil will stop dropping your KH so much, but that could take 3-5 months or so. Another idea would be to place your new rock into the tank after your water change and remove it when the Aquasoil stops influencing your KH. This could be the very simple answer, but I wanted to state the above so you understand what's going on. Regardless, it's not your pH or GH, and I'd discountinue the use of your CO2 controller for now. Since you're in the Houston area, I can tell you your GH is high, very high, anywhere from 13-18+dGH. I wouldn't bother testing for it or even worrying about it. I think when you stabilize your water params, you'll see your fish health improve greatly. Stress can make them succeptible to all kinds of diseases.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-06-2008, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Avalon View Post
I think what's happening is that you're suffocating your fish with CO2. You mentioned using Aquasoil, which will lower your KH over time. This isn't a bad thing, but it is throwing off your CO2 controller. Here's what I believe to be going on:

The cure: There are several ways to approach this. Ideally, the lower the KH the better, but it needs to be stable. pH doesn't matter, so don't worry about it. For now, I would discontinue using your CO2 controller and either run CO2 24/7 or use the solenoid to shut it off at night.
Thanks Avalon.... I have a few questions. You mention that PH doesn't matter? Why? I thought you were supposed to maintain a ph any where from 6.8 to 7.5 for a community tank.

You are right about the KH. It actually stabilizes at 5 dkh in 2 days after water change. The PH controller keeps the PH at 6.8/6.9.. even at 5 dkh the PH doesn't fall below 6.8. It actually tends to go up and the controller kicks in and starts the CO2. I am using a home made inline reactor for my CO2 injection. It is a 4" pvc pipe 16" long. It's a monster, and I think I get 100% absorption.

I also have a drop checker to measure my CO2. The only time it went yellow was when I lost half of my fish. Besides that it has never gone yellow.

Whenever my KH is 5dkh I see no bubbles or pearling on my Ricia. When I raise my KH to 7.0 and a PH of 6.9, everything starts bubbling and pearling.

The weekly quarter water change raises my PH to 7.1 and KH to 7.0 (I think it raises it to 7.0 I have it logged... I will have to double check this once I get home).

So If I was overdosing my fish then the drop checker should go yellow right? Wouldn't a higher level of CO2 cause the PH to crash?
Isn't there a relation b/w KH PH and CO2 absorption? If one goes down the other must go up and vice versa?
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-06-2008, 06:24 PM
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I wouldn't say pH is "irrelevant" at all (though you will see statements to that effect pretty widely on this forum, I strongly disagree). Understanding what drives pH changes is what's important- and there are some pH fluctations that impact fish more than others. CO2-induced pH changes seem to have little impact, where changes induced by fluctuating TDS levels can kill fish very quickly. If you want to keep your fish alive, you need to go SLOW with your changes. Fish can generally adapt to "less than ideal" water parameters, as long as they have time to acclimate slowly.

You've got a lot of different issues going on at the same time in this tank- different things that will both raise and lower your kH, gH, and pH. You need to find a way to achieve stability.

I agree with Avalon- over time you need to try and settle in your tank water parameters as closely to your tap water paramters as possible. The issue is your tap paramters are pretty extreme for most fish. Have you tested the paramters of your drinking water? This may be a much better long term solution- depending on the actual filter that you say you just installed.





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