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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi I am currently cycling my new 20g planted tank (day 7 only, cycle not yet completed).

I have tested PH/GH/KH and here are the results :

PH = 8.2
GH = 40 mg/l (soft)
KH = 30 mg/l

I am confused my test kit says that such a low Kh "Is normally associated with a low pH". But my PH seems to be on the high side (too much maybe?).

Also, I read having soft water with such a high PH could be risky (fluctuating). Should I do anything about it like raising the GH/KH or lowering the PH?

Or should I wait for cycle to complete then retest parameters (not sur if it should change or not).

Here are the plants I have right now :
- Java fern
- Java moss
- Anubias
- Valisneria
- Amazon sword

All are doing fine so far except for the java fern whose leaves are turning blackish and start growing what seems to be hair algae.

I am also cycling with fish (3 x cherry barb) and they are know to like KH 4-10, pH 6.0-7.0...

So now I'm afraid I might have compromised the health of my cherry bard.

Any thought on what I should do next?
 

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My first thoughts would be for the fish. Purchase some bacteria in a bottle, tetra safestart or the like (not jungle start) so your fish dont suffer ammonia and nitrite poisoning. And do a water change prior to adding the bacteria. I think at this point ammonia and nitrite are the bigger dangers to your fish.
 

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To put your mind at ease: for GH and KH, mg/l is the ppm measurement. You can convert this to dH (German degrees) with the following formula:
ppm/17.9=dH

Always keep in mind the type of measurement being used by your source: 30ppm=2dH (rounded up)


Personally I'm enjoying my low KH, GH, and pH and have no 'swings'. I don't know if you did this, but if you tested right after a water change or from the tap the pH will often be higher than it would be after 24 hours.

Once you figure out if these numbers are stable even with water changes, then you can decide what your goals are before trying to adjust any of these numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My first thoughts would be for the fish. Purchase some bacteria in a bottle, tetra safestart or the like (not jungle start) so your fish dont suffer ammonia and nitrite poisoning. And do a water change prior to adding the bacteria. I think at this point ammonia and nitrite are the bigger dangers to your fish.
Current Ammonia/nitrite/nitrate readings are :

Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0.1
nitrate = 0

I can add "cycle" to the tank tonight but I was under the impression (correct me if I'm wrong!) if I monitored Ammonia and nitrite closely that cherry barbs should be hardy enough to go through cycling if I make sure I don't reach high toxicity levels (tank is also relatively heavily planted).

Any thoughts on the PH/GH/KH readings?

Bump:
To put your mind at ease: for GH and KH, mg/l is the ppm measurement. You can convert this to dH (German degrees) with the following formula:
ppm/17.9=dH

Always keep in mind the type of measurement being used by your source: 30ppm=2dH (rounded up)


Personally I'm enjoying my low KH, GH, and pH and have no 'swings'. I don't know if you did this, but if you tested right after a water change or from the tap the pH will often be higher than it would be after 24 hours.

Once you figure out if these numbers are stable even with water changes, then you can decide what your goals are before trying to adjust any of these numbers.
last water change was 48 hours ago. Also had a bucket of tap water I let "rest" for 48 hours (to let it degas), I tested the PH only though but it showed 8.2 as well.

Am I correct to say that having high PH and low KH isn't "bad" as per say, but since I'll have very low buffer I might have to test PH more frequently to make sure it doesn't "fluctuate" in a dangerous way?
 

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Am I correct to say that having high PH and low KH isn't "bad" as per say, but since I'll have very low buffer I might have to test PH more frequently to make sure it doesn't "fluctuate" in a dangerous way?
I don't think it's "bad" per se, but then again I don't know. I'm no expert, but I did enjoy reading this thread when I was doing some research to see if I could use my well water: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8...n/32365-low-no-kh-low-ph-without-crash-3.html
It's talking specifically about low parameters in all three though it might give you an idea if crashes are something you might expect.

I often feel like high-tech tanks are at more of a risk since they're pushing everything to it's limits so when one thing fails, it cascades through the system more quickly. But again, I'm no expert, nor do I keep a high-tech tank. But according to that thread, people are running low GH/KH/pH without crashes on high-tech tanks (as long as everything remains functioning properly) throughout the hobby- Takashi Amano's tanks seem to run this way too.

I've come across some people saying that if phosphates are added to the tap water during filtering that it will raise the pH (since water companies don't like pumping acidic water through the pipes).

I would think it depends on the fish/plants you want to keep in the long run, really, since GH/KH can also be adjusted up if needed. I do wonder if the introduction of some acid-releasing substances would drop your pH relatively quickly because of the low-ish KH... or a phosphate test (would it even show up?) to see if that's the problem. Would be an interesting experiment...

Sorry I don't have much in the way of solid answers.
 

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Water companies treat water with sodium hydroxide/sodium carbonate so the pH is never below 7.0 in water pipes. Lower pH can leach copper from the copper plumbing, or lead from the solder used to join the copper plumbing (or from lead pipes, still in use in some areas). That can cause you to have an abnormally high pH, but the pH usually drops with time, or I think it does.
 

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Water companies treat water with sodium hydroxide/sodium carbonate so the pH is never below 7.0 in water pipes. Lower pH can leach copper from the copper plumbing, or lead from the solder used to join the copper plumbing (or from lead pipes, still in use in some areas). That can cause you to have an abnormally high pH, but the pH usually drops with time, or I think it does.
Yeah this is pretty common for cities with soft water, also the city we lived in previously, we had a river water source that was alkaline from natural sodium carbonates, it would never read much over 2~3 carbonate hardness, but was always about 7.8~8.0 pH.

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Nitrifying bacteria get their carbon from carbonates.
I would return the fish and do a fishless cycle, or else buy a bottle with Nitrospira species of bacteria.
I would raise the GH and KH of this water to suit the bacteria. When you are growing bacteria you want the conditions to be the optimum for them to grow fast.
Once the bacteria are established you can do a big water change and get the GH and KH just right for the fish.

I am attaching the fishless cycle so you can check that the tank has the right parameters for the bacteria.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine. (7.5-8 seems to be optimum)
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher (to 95*F or about 35*C) is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, and trace elements like CSM+B that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1a) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria may use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off. They use the carbon from CO2, and this is generally pretty low in water, but can be replenished from the air and from carbonates. Keep the carbonates up to keep the pH up, too.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better. To grow them at optimum rates, keep the pH on the alkaline side of neutral.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving. 1 ppm twice a day will grow almost as much bacteria as 3 ppm once a day.
 
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