The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey yall,
I am very new to the planted tank world, but prior to this i've been keeping reef tanks for a few years. My main confusion stems from pH. I have a 10 gallon low tech setup that is currently cycling. I used some spiderwood and fluval stratum as my aquascape. I've noticed that my pH is consistently near 6 maybe even under, but the test strip does not measure that far down. I also got my water tested at petsmart and the pH was also acidic. I now know that in the long run a pH at 6 - 6.5 is not bad, however I have heard the nitrification cycle slows down. Ive also seen that my kH is consistently as 40 ppm or 0 which I believe to be too low. My carbonate hardness is around 120ppm which I am not concerned about. I have been using alkaline buffer, but it doesn't last more than a day. If anyone has any advice on how to proceed with my cycle and livestock, that would be greatly appreciated!

PS: my stocking preference is 6-7 ember tetras, if anyone has any criticism please tell me so I can reconsider!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
15,775 Posts
Step 1: Get a liquid test kit. Do that ASAP. API will work but if you stick with this for a while, as I suspect you will as a reefer, you'll want to try to get something a bit better eventually - Sera, Salifert, et al.

Nitrification cycle won't really slow down much. I've run tanks below 6 for at least 25 years. Sometimes it takes 90-120 days for me to get everything going but that's about it.

The substrate you're using pulls the kH from your water and will until it's exhausted. Don't worry too much about it. Don't try to chase parameters when using a buffering/active soil. As long as things remain stable, that'll be fine. But 40 PPM is about 2. And 120 is about 6.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Step 1: Get a liquid test kit. Do that ASAP. API will work but if you stick with this for a while, as I suspect you will as a reefer, you'll want to try to get something a bit better eventually - Sera, Salifert, et al.

Nitrification cycle won't really slow down much. I've run tanks below 6 for at least 25 years. Sometimes it takes 90-120 days for me to get everything going but that's about it.

The substrate you're using pulls the kH from your water and will until it's exhausted. Don't worry too much about it. Don't try to chase parameters when using a buffering/active soil. As long as things remain stable, that'll be fine. But 40 PPM is about 2. And 120 is about 6.
sounds good. I use salifert and Hannah for my reef, and in the saltwater side of this hobby API is seen as very inaccurate so I was steering clear of it for freshwater. I’ll go get an API master kit today or tomorrow. If my substrate is pulling kH won’t that make the pH unstable and open to swings?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
15,775 Posts
sounds good. I use salifert and Hannah for my reef, and in the saltwater side of this hobby API is seen as very inaccurate so I was steering clear of it for freshwater. I’ll go get an API master kit today or tomorrow. If my substrate is pulling kH won’t that make the pH unstable and open to swings?
If you can, get some other kind of kit. API is just bare minimum, as you're already aware. I keep really sensitive dwarf shrimp and prefer to have something more accurate. Sera, at least on the fresh side, is a good mid-range brand for pH, kH, gH. But API will really be okay/good enough for testing ammonia/nitrite/nitrate just to get through the first month. You'll likely have used it up just checking levels until everything is ready. Then once your tank is settled? Get something better if you want it.

Buffering or active substrates keep your pH stable for a couple years or until there's no more kH to absorb. I use higher-end substrates and use remineralized RO/DI (just like on the salt side) to mix up my water to the parameters I want. But if you're using treated tap with a kH that's only 2, your substrate is gonna be fine for a good while. If you were using liquid rock at like 8-9 kH, you'd have to get a different substrate in 8-9 months. But I'm betting you'll get at least 2 years or more of use. Then once the buffering capacity is exhausted, your pH and kH will slowly rise to whatever your tap water is. And since you have a kH of 2, that'll be enough to maintain stable parameters and really isn't enough to really cause problems with anything you'll likely be keeping.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you can, get some other kind of kit. API is just bare minimum, as you're already aware. I keep really sensitive dwarf shrimp and prefer to have something more accurate. Sera, at least on the fresh side, is a good mid-range brand for pH, kH, gH. But API will really be okay/good enough for testing ammonia/nitrite/nitrate just to get through the first month. You'll likely have used it up just checking levels until everything is ready. Then once your tank is settled? Get something better if you want it.

Buffering or active substrates keep your pH stable for a couple years or until there's no more kH to absorb. I use higher-end substrates and use remineralized RO/DI (just like on the salt side) to mix up my water to the parameters I want. But if you're using treated tap with a kH that's only 2, your substrate is gonna be fine for a good while. If you were using liquid rock at like 8-9 kH, you'd have to get a different substrate in 8-9 months. But I'm betting you'll get at least 2 years or more of use. Then once the buffering capacity is exhausted, your pH and kH will slowly rise to whatever your tap water is. And since you have a kH of 2, that'll be enough to maintain stable parameters and really isn't enough to really cause problems with anything you'll likely be keeping.
so what I’m understanding is to not use a buffer at this point? I will look into the sera brand of kits today.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
15,775 Posts
so what I’m understanding is to not use a buffer at this point? I will look into the sera brand of kits today.
Don't use a buffer. Your substrate will just suck it all out of the water.

As for Sera - I never use them when first starting a tank because I'm testing every 1-2 days and constantly adding ammonia. I use cheaper stuff for that. Once all is settled and livestock is moving in, I use nicer kits. But that's just my method of trying to save money where I can.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Don't use a buffer. Your substrate will just suck it all out of the water.

As for Sera - I never use them when first starting a tank because I'm testing every 1-2 days and constantly adding ammonia. I use cheaper stuff for that. Once all is settled and livestock is moving in, I use nicer kits. But that's just my method of trying to save money where I can.
Sounds like a plan. Do you think I should stock some basic plants to boost filtration or go lifeless until the tank is cycled?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
nitrification stops almost completely at a ph below 5.5 if i remember correctly. but good news for you, ammonia becomes harmless ammonium at such a low ph as well. so you don't have much to worry about. this video explains ph, ammonia and ammonium relationship well
. cheers, plantnoob
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
15,775 Posts
@Atul .01: I like to plant all of my tanks from day one - before I flood them. That way everything is grown in by the time I add critters in 4-6 weeks (or 3 months with shrimp.)

@plantnoobdude: I've got a bunch of shrimp tanks that run consistently below 5 and they can process plenty of ammonia/ammonium - which is still bad news bears for things like shrimp. Probably would have a more difficult (but not impossible) time with a bunch of fish but 400-500 shrimp is no big deal.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top