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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I sort of asked this in another thread but don't think I was very clear on what my water parameters were.

I live in Portland, OR and our tap water has 0 GH and 0 KH, I started my tank cycling two weeks ago with ADA Ammazonia and lots of stem plants.

My pH dropped from 8 to 5 with the Ammazonia and two weeks in it is still sitting down around 5 or 5.5 (pH test doesn't seem very accurate when it gets that low).

My hardness is still somewhere between 0 and 2 degrees, my ammonia, nitrites and nitrates levels are all pretty high still and I haven't seen any signs that my pH is raising at all.

I was hoping someone who has had experience with setting up a tank with ammazonia and no hardness could tell me if I should wait it out to see if ammonia and nitrites drop off and pH comes up a bit or if I should just start buffering with baking soda or crushed coral already?

I'd prefer to not have to buffer if it can be helped because I don't like the thought of relying on an additive to keep my levels stable.

Can I expect that my nitrite and ammonia levels will start dropping soon given that my pH is (presumably) too low to grow nitrifying bacteria? I'm really confused by what I should be watching for given all of the cycling methods I've been reading about assume a higher pH.

Thanks in advance for any advice, maybe I'm just being over-anxious but it'd be good to know if there's anything I should be doing to help the process.
 

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The bacteria that are responsible for converting ammonia-->nitrites-->nitrates don't work very well under a pH of about 6.something or other. You're going to have a heck of a time cycling it at pH 5. You do need some KH to get the job done. Baking soda, coral, whatever. Best of luck.

ETA: What you're looking for is all of the ammonia and nitrites to disappear. I've heard that the substrate you're using can release ammonia, so that might be part of the confusion.
 

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Many people use ADA Aquasoil, and have soft water too. It does work. If you start the tank by heavily planting it mostly with stem plants, it will cycle itself for you. ADA recommends changing water very often for a couple of weeks or so, to get rid of the initial surge in leached ammonia. If it makes you feel better to have a higher pH, just get used to adding some baking soda with every water change, to get 1-2 dKH of hardness.

Remember, ammonia is a great source of nitrogen for plants, and if they are growing well, they will remove any ammonia the fish produce, whether you have a big colony of bacteria or a small one (you can't prevent having a colony of some size.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys, I actually just talked to someone else in Portland that had ammazonia drop their pH from 8 to 5 as well, I did know it would account for a drop, just didn't expect it to be so dramatic.

Hoppy, what you're saying supports what the guy I was talking to was saying happened with his tank. He saw the ammonia drop off after 21 days and the nitrites drop after 26, I think I just need to give it time and wait another week or two. It also sounds like the ferts I've been dosing could account for some inaccurate results in my nitrite and nitrate tests. I'll stop dosing ferts until the cycle has finished so I can get some more accurate readings.

I'd assume that some sort of bacteria is going to take over to help w/ the nitrites, it's just a matter of what type of bacteria and how long it takes to establish right?

I'll try to avoid having to buffer with baking soda so I'll just wait it out and watch for the ammonia and nitrites to drop off. I've got tons of stem plants in there now and they're growing like mad so something must be working alright, they must be loving that ammoniazonia.
 
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