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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been cycling my tank, silently, now for about a month with just live plants. I figure I'll give it about another week and it'll be ready for fish...as long as I can get these potential issues worked out. My problem is my PH and KH. My PH has been extremely stable since I started testing it a little over 2 weeks ago. It just remains at a constant 7.6. I'm liking the stability, but is this PH going to be a little high for tropical fish (barbs, tetras, "sharks", etc.)?

My other concern is my KH. It has also been very stable, but is a little low. It tests 3dKH. I've been reading that I really don't want a KH below 4-4.5 or else I may run into PH issues. However, even after going through numerous introductions of plants and changing out filter media, my PH has remained a solid 7.6 (I realize I can't know the true stability until the introduction of fish).

It seems most methods that increase KH will inadvertently increase PH. I cannot afford to increase my PH even the slightest bit (correct me if I'm wrong), but I'd really just feel more comfortable with a stronger buffer.

Now I just added an Aquaclear filter yesterday in addition to my Aqueon, which is also when I tested my water, so I'll wait and see what effect its biological media will have, if any. What can I do to increase KH but will leave my PH alone? I was thinking maybe a small amount of coral may be enough to affect KH but not PH?
 

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Those pH problems don't exist. People thought that low KH meant unstable pH that's simply untrue. There are other buffers at work other than HCO3- in an aquarium. You have nothing to worry about. Don't change anything. 7.6 pH is great.
 

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Your water parameters are fine right where they are.

Stability is infinately more important than anything else.

As long as you properly acclimate your fish and keep up a good water change regimen, things should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok sounds good.

As for the PH. Take for instance the Tiger Barb (a fish I've been particular too). Everywhere I look, I'm seeing the desired PH is anywhere from 6.0-7.0. I was also wanting to put a Red Tail Shark in there, but am seeing that 7.6 is the highest tolerance. Just seems some of the fish I've been interested in have tolerances no higher than 6.5 to 7.0...maybe a little over 7.0. Should I think about lowering my ph or would they still thrive in a stable 7.6?
 

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Your PH is not important and is perfect for almost every fish, your KH is low so fish that need a low ph will be fine in your tank.
If you want to lower your ph, DON'T use any chemicals for this. There are a lot of natural things for this like: peat moss, IAL (Indian Almond Leaves), even driftwood.
In the future, if you would add CO2 to your tank, you will see your PH go down to around 7, 6.8, so don't worry about your PH!
 

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Also, from what I understand, running a tank without any fish or ammonia and just plants is not considered cycling...
A "silent cycle" is one where you add enough live plants from the getgo to deal with all the ammonia produced by the fish. And stock slowly.

Ok sounds good.

As for the PH. Take for instance the Tiger Barb (a fish I've been particular too). Everywhere I look, I'm seeing the desired PH is anywhere from 6.0-7.0. I was also wanting to put a Red Tail Shark in there, but am seeing that 7.6 is the highest tolerance. Just seems some of the fish I've been interested in have tolerances no higher than 6.5 to 7.0...maybe a little over 7.0. Should I think about lowering my ph or would they still thrive in a stable 7.6?
Yes, the fish will be fine. Especially relatively hardy fish like TBs and RTBSs that are generally captive bred to begin with.

As long as your water isn't too extreme (which it is not), the only time hitting and maintaining some "ideal" kH and gH is important is if you're dealing with sensitive and/or wild-caught fish or are trying to breed.
 

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It's called "Silent Cycling"
When you add fish after your so called SILENT CYCLE, the ammonia will go up, and will burn there gills, you will have a lot of probs with your tank when you add fish!!
 

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Ok sounds good.

As for the PH. Take for instance the Tiger Barb (a fish I've been particular too). Everywhere I look, I'm seeing the desired PH is anywhere from 6.0-7.0. I was also wanting to put a Red Tail Shark in there, but am seeing that 7.6 is the highest tolerance. Just seems some of the fish I've been interested in have tolerances no higher than 6.5 to 7.0...maybe a little over 7.0. Should I think about lowering my ph or would they still thrive in a stable 7.6?
generally posted ranges are not for farm raised tropicals which accept much wider ranges. your numbers are fine
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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When you add fish after your so called SILENT CYCLE, the ammonia will go up, and will burn there gills, you will have a lot of probs with your tank when you add fish!!
Not if you've got enough live plant mass to start off with.

The problem is most people start off with just one or two bunches of plants (usually from an LFS so are emersed-grown and then have to go through a lengthy transition to submersed) and then toss a big bioload in the tank. If you do it right- start off with tons of fast-growing plants, give them time to get established, and then stock slowly- it can work extremely well. You never get any detectable ammonia or nitrite spike because the plants absorb it as quickly as the fish produce it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Not if you've got enough live plant mass to start off with.

The problem is most people start off with just one or two bunches of plants (usually from an LFS so are emersed-grown and then have to go through a lengthy transition to submersed) and then toss a big bioload in the tank. If you do it right- start off with tons of fast-growing plants, give them time to get established, and then stock slowly- it can work extremely well. You never get any detectable ammonia or nitrite spike because the plants absorb it as quickly as the fish produce it.
Exactly.
 

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Not if you've got enough live plant mass to start off with.

The problem is most people start off with just one or two bunches of plants (usually from an LFS so are emersed-grown and then have to go through a lengthy transition to submersed) and then toss a big bioload in the tank. If you do it right- start off with tons of fast-growing plants, give them time to get established, and then stock slowly- it can work extremely well. You never get any detectable ammonia or nitrite spike because the plants absorb it as quickly as the fish produce it.
Yes, I understand, but this will not work with only a couple of plants in the tank, like I saw on one of his pictures and his description, maybe he added more plants and will wait to add fish until his his tank is a jungle, but as you know, with low light, no co2 and prob not a good mix of nutrients, this will take forever. (before you can start adding fish)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes, I understand, but this will not work with only a couple of plants in the tank, like I saw on one of his pictures and his description, maybe he added more plants and will wait to add fish until his his tank is a jungle, but as you know, with low light, no co2 and prob not a good mix of nutrients, this will take forever. (before you can start adding fish)
I've added much more since any pictures i've posted on this forum. I also have a good dosing regimen going. Filtration is good and I've already begun to see a spike in nitrate while ammonia and nitrite have sunk to zero. It may take a little more time, but requires less work and looks much better than an empty tank. Plus, I'm going to let it sit for another week or two just to be on the safe side. Should work out okay.
 

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if you notice that your tank is cycled, its time to put couple of fish in there before all your beneficial bacteria starve to dead. Stock very slow. If you don't want to get fish right now, you can throw a frozen shrimp in your tank. I cycle tanks with shrimp or mussels, easy and works great.
 

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I'm having a similar issue...

My pH is 7.2 (it's always been 7.0-7.2.) I've had the tank for 6 months, it's heavily live planted, and was made for a female betta sorority. I had 4 girls, 3 died out of nowhere, and there were never any bodies- the foliage is SO thick that the corpses just disappear and the plants eat them (Really though, when I suction the plants and the gravel, I don't even find bones...) Would that affect my KH? Dead fish? I do a 40-50% water change every week, but I only do my master kit tests once a month. Every other time but today my KH has been a 3. Today it was a ONE, but my pH is 7.2, so I don't understand what happened. I moved my last betta into a bowl with spring water until I figure this out. There's a molly in the tank still, but he seems fine. My betta was all lethargic...and help would be appreciated
 

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@MAK0003: This is a thread from several years ago, so it may not get much attention.

What are your other water parameters?

Temperature
kH
gH
Ammonia
Nitrite
Nitrate

What substrate are you using? Do you have a lot of driftwood in the tank? Peat? Almond leaves?

Could you share a photo or photos of the tank?
 

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I'd first check the expiration date on those test kits. They go bad very quickly. Resulting in numbers that are much lower than what they truly are. Take a sample to a good LFS and have them double check the parameters to see if your test kits are still good.

Driftwood, decaying plants, and decomposing waste can lower the KH quickly. Water changes are usually enough to balance everything out. Unless you're using RO or distilled water.

Only way I know to raise KH but not pH is to use CO2 to keep the pH low, but that's not easy. The pH will constantly change with the light cycle, plant mass, how many people are in the house, if the windows and doors are left open. Lots of factors can cause pH swings. Most fish can tolerate pH swings within a certain range but this can become dangerous if other parameters are also changing.

I'd suggest more frequent water changes and change out the activated carbon every 2-3 weeks. Don't need much carbon. A little goes a long way but after two weeks the pores get clogged with detritus and become less effective at removing toxic chemicals.
 

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@MAK0003: This is a thread from several years ago, so it may not get much attention.

What are your other water parameters?

Temperature
kH
gH
Ammonia
Nitrite
Nitrate

What substrate are you using? Do you have a lot of driftwood in the tank? Peat? Almond leaves?

Could you share a photo or photos of the tank?
My temp is between 75-77 depending on if the A/C is on.
My kh was 1
I don’t have test for gh
My ammonia is between 0-.25
My nitrite is 0
And the nitrate is between 0-5ppms

My substrate is Seachem fluorite black.
I have a piece of driftwood, but I boiled the tannins out before I used it.
Everything is live, except the back left corner plant.
 

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