ph problems in dirted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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ph problems in dirted tank

I'm still having ph problems in a tank I converted to dirt.
I used organic miracle grow capped with play sand. There was a bunch of disturbance after I put the fish in, which was a couple weeks after I finished setting up the tank. It brought up a lot of dirt so I tried to put it back down, and added more sand. I also washed the sponges and filter floss in the canister filters which were covered in dirt yesterday, and I emptied the filters and washed them out because there was lots of dirt in them, but I did NOT wash off the bio media which was/is cycled. The ph is actually not declining as fast now that I've done that, but it's still going down.

I've been doing fairly frequent water changes. I did another yesterday. Before the change, the ph was a bit below 6.6. I tested the water immediately after the change, and the water was about 7.0 which is what my tap water normally is. I tested a couple hours later, and it was closer to 6.8, and then I tested again a while ago, and it's closer to 6.6, so it's steadily going down again. It's been going as low as 6.0 which is as low as I can test.

Ammonia and nitrite were both 0 before the change yesterday and after the change, and still 0 when I tested just a while ago. I'm just not sure how I can get the ph stable. Someone said last time I posted that crushed coral would raise my ph but higher than I want it and keep it there, so I don't want to use that. Do I need to buy a buffer or something? What should I do? The fish seem fine, btw, but I still don't like the ph going down like this, and I want to add more fish to the tank, but definitely won't until I can get the ph stable for a while! If anyone has any advice, I'm all ears! know what I mean

Edit: I forgot about the gh and kh testing. I ordered a kit from Amazon, but the package was damaged, so I'll just pick one up at the store today. Can't believe I forgot about it though! Sorry about that! To you guys who want the results and to my fish of course Crazy times with holidays and final exams coming up!
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-28-2014, 03:56 AM
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90% of all potting mix, garden soil, topsoil, etc.... have peat mixed in, peat acts as a ph buffer to lower the ph. It's common in all dirted tanks whether they use miracle-gro organic, topsoil, etc.... to have this issue, when you water changes you may see a spike in the ph for a short period, then as it mixes with the already established water in the tank the ph gradually go down to the original ph range.

This is why some people use R/O water for water changes, or like I do; I use a big rubbermaid container, fill it with water from the tap, add either tetra safe start or prime (which ever I have at the time), use a powerhead with airline connected to air pump put the top on the big container and let it run for a few days.

This is known as aging the water, it's widely used in the saltwater side of the hobby, but I do it for all of my tanks so I don't get any major issues while doing water changes.

15g Fluval Flex - Will be a planted shrimp tank
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-28-2014, 04:07 AM
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You can add coral sand, limestone sand, oyster shell grit or similar materials in a bag (nylon stocking works well) to the filter. This way you can control the amount you are using, and limit its action.

Use the GH and KH test kit. Post results for tap water and tank.
If the GH is lower than the fish want, then add Seachem Equilibrium to bring up the calcium and magnesium levels.
If the KH is under 3 German degrees of hardness, you can add baking soda at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 30 gallons to raise the KH by 2 degrees. Easy to do the math for any size tank, and amount of change in KH.
You can use potassium bicarbonate, use a bit less than you would use of baking soda.
If the KH is over 3 degrees I would expect the pH to be more stable than your post indicates.

Some substrates remove the carbonates from the water. If this is going on, then adding coral sand etc to the filter will create more stable conditions than dosing the water column with carbonates or bicarbonates.
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