Can a dirt tank cause a ph crash? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 03:32 AM Thread Starter
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Can a dirt tank cause a ph crash?

I've never had ph problems until last night. The ph crashed from about 7.2 to about 6.2 VERY quickly. I had JUST checked the water parameters 4 hours before the crash. Readings then were:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 3/4ish
ph: 7.2
I didn't realize anything was wrong until the fish told me. I've got a couple in hospital tanks now, recovering very nicely, but lost a couple fish :/ The rest of the fish in the tank ALL went to the surface and were breathing pretty heavily there. I checked the water quickly after doing some emergency work with my favorite angel who was quite near death :/ The readings were:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 3/4ish
ph: about 6.2
I did a few small water changes and they calmed down and started breathing ok again. That was at about 8am. I gave it a couple hours before checking the water again. The readings after that change were:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
ph: 7.0
The ph has gone down since then to about 6.7. I added some ph UP (ran out of baking soda :/) and will do another water change in the morning.

I did change this tank recently. I converted it to dirt using organic Miracle Grow capped with play sand. I also got new canister filters, but ALL of the media inside both canisters was totally cycled and had been for a MINIMUM of one year. After changing out the substrate, I waited a couple weeks, doing water changes and watching the parameters, and once it was stable for about a week, I planted the tank and waited another week. After that week, during which the water parameters were all good, I added the fish back in. That was a couple days ago. I kept checking the parameters up until about 4 hours before the crash. Only now am I have ph problems :/ But the most different thing about the tank is the dirt so I thought that maybe that's what it is. If it is the dirt, then I need to know how to fix this! The fish did kick up a small bit of dirt, but I didn't think that would do anything. Should I add more sand? What can I do to get the ph stable?

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 01:02 PM
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post kh reading

yes it can occur. early digestion of protein (the organic compounds in the soil) by bacteria defininately yields acid so your water needs to be able to compensate for that well

your tests if accurate imply soft water

all you need is a bunch of pre emptive water changes that dont stir up the substrate until this lessens and it will run your plants well

lastly, several threads have come about lately regarding air stone use and why they may impact your issue by offgassing co2. temp spikes in co2 is another possibility in early organic digestion done by aerobes. for one night try an airstone ran in the front of the tank, not mounted permanently its just a chance. this has a 50% chance of fixing the issue too, if not you need better buffering.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 01:33 PM
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You running CO2? If you are that could be another reason as well.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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My kh test solution bottle was empty and I couldn't find the gh one :/ I ordered another kit on Amazon as soon as I realized but it probably won't be here until Monday.
I'm not running CO2. Sorry, I should've mentioned that. I kept reading that you shouldn't/don't have to use CO2 for a few months after dirting a tank.
Also, I actually did put a long air stone at the front of the tank as soon as I saw all the fish at the surface breathing heavily. I thought it was probably because of the ph, but that an air stone couldn't hurt. The canister filters don't create any surface agitation, so I figured an air stone couldn't hurt. If anything it's a fun time for my harlequin rasboras. They like playing in the bubbles :P
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