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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm curious because I finally tested my water and I am at 2 degrees KH. 4dGH. Seems really low. I've never had water like this. First tank in NYC.

My fish-less cycle which is going very slow. 20 + days, zero nitrites and nitrates. Ammonia is disappearing @ 2ppm in 3 days. I thought maybe that might have something to do with the plants and co2. Not enough oxygen and too much competition. I'm not really sure.
 

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Bump up your KH to at least 4 degrees. Baking soda will bump it up. Make sure your nitrite and nitrate tests aren't expired. Also, give the nitrate reagent bottles a good shake. If you're adding ammonia and it's disappearing, you should be seeing nitrites and nitrates.
 

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Nitrifying bacteria need the carbonates, it is where they get their carbon. I would raise the KH as high as you can to improve the growth of the bacteria. Absolute minimum of 3 degrees, and something closer to 10 degrees if possible. Won't hurt the plants unless you have some of that awkward group the really demand the softest water. GH of 4 is OK, if you can raise it a bit that is OK, too.

These bacteria were initially identified in the lab in cultures where the water was like liquid rock: Very high GH, KH, pH and TDS.

No salt, but plenty of other minerals. I would add plant fertilizer like KH2PO4 and trace minerals, too.

After the cycle is done you will be doing some really big water changes to get the NO3 way down. You can use softer, low TDS water for this refill. It is when you want the bacteria to be growing at their fastest that you really need to meet their needs the best you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
My PH is between 6 and 6.4

This morning for the first time I see signs of nitrites and nitrates. A very small amount @ 0.25ppm. Nitrate @ 5.0 ppm I am on my way. Just very slow. Thank science.

@Diana , would I have to add carbonates with every water change ? IF this affects my ph shouldn't I prefer a stable ph ? Just curious because I never messed with my water like this before. In the dark ages, things were a lot simpler.
 

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While you are deliberately GROWING nitrifying bacteria you want the conditions to be optimum for reproduction and growth. If there is a lack of lumber you cannot build the house. Similarly if there is low to no carbon, the bacteria cannot build more bacteria.

Set up the conditions temporarily for the maximum growth of the bacteria.

Once you have a good population you can allow the water parameters to become softer water, though I would still suggest minimums of 3 German degrees KH and GH, and some plant fertilizers (KH2PO4 and traces) so that there is enough material to replace dead bacteria.

Remember: Nitrifying bacteria are not decomposers. They do not get the materials they need (carbon, other things) from dead matter. They need the minerals and other things to be present in the water.

Yes, things were simpler. When the fish died you went and got new ones, and never paid attention to why because there were no tests to find out more than pH and temperature. This is why myths about 'never change water' and 'add salt' came from. Fish were hardier then, too. Fewer generations away from the wild, so there was still some genetic diversity. Not world-wide hatcheries spreading all the fish diseases around.
 
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