Feeling Overwhelmed

MsRiss

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55 gallon tank and cycling fish in with Cory's and bettas. pH started out at 8.2 in 1 day plummeted to 6.2. No fish loss. Everyone is accounted for. No one has dumped food in the tank. So I performed 50% water change per recommendations. Now my pH is still reading 6.2. After talking to my LPS I was told to test my waters KH and GH. So I have and results as follows KH 1 and GH 13... I'm so overwhelmed by this tank. The tank is cloudy, battling with the cycle, pH, now KH and GH. I bought some alkaline buffer today at my LPS but not sure if that would help or not. On the bottle it says to use with acid buffer which I didn't get... Shoot! So tomorrow I will be purchasing acid buffer. Are these problems normal? Can my tank even get through this? Do I even use the buffers? I need some serious help here. My husband's philosophy is to "leave it the **** alone and not even do water changes". Any advise?

I just read and watched a video on raising KH levels and pH levels with baking soda... Does anyone recommend this?
 
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midnightwhale

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I’m still a beginner as well so I can’t give you much advice. I do really love cories and bettas and I would love to see the pictures if you have them. From what I’ve heard, as long as you can keep your ph consistent, I think 6.2 would be alright for your fish but I’d get a second opinion. I’d mainly focus on getting your cycle complete assuming everything else stays consistent. Do you know your tap water numbers?
Good luck and you got this
 

Little Blue Ram

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First off, it gets better, just be patient. My last tank had issues with Ph going from 7.2 to 6 and consistently staying there, I read up on everything, was frustrated, and eventually did try the baking soda method. But I really wish I hadn't, it fixed my tank for a day and then the next it plummeted. Someone on here just told me to leave it be and just do my water changes as normal (once a week with my already cycled tank) and since then it's fixed itself. I agree with midnight that you should worry more on cycling the tank right now and continuing to do your water changes. How often are you doing them?
 
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TacoRoberts

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hardness (both GH and KH) can be measured in degrees of hardness, or PPM. I'm gonna assume you are giving numbers in Degrees of Hardness

It looks like you have hard water, but that's ok. Fish can be ok with a bit higher GH, but new fish you put in the tank may get stressed out. You can always cut your tap water with some distilled or deionized water before adding new fish.

Your Kh is a bit low - KH will help stabilize the pH (over time aquarium water will tend to have a lower pH). There is no specific number for kH I've ever been able to find online. My API kH testing kit recommended a level around 3. So thats what I shoot for *IF* im going to mess with KH (I change my water pretty frequently... so I dont worry about KH unless Im not going to be around to change the water for a while)

As far as your pH goes - you might want to check the pH of the water you are putting in your tank. After a 50% water change, it's odd that your pH only changed by .1

The bacteria that are gonna get rid of the nitrate and nitrite aren't big fans of lower pH levels. They would prefer a pH of 8. A good middle ground to keep your fish and your bacteria happy is to try and keep it between 7.0 and 8.0

You will want to use the acid and alkaline buffer together, and hopefully they have instructions for how to mix the to get the desired kH as well as pH. Don't worry about trying to get an EXACT pH... keeping it higher than 7.0 and under 8.0 will serve you well enough.

Cloudy water often happens with new tanks. It typically just goes away after a bit on its own. Also, buy one of those magnet glass scrubbers - clean the inside of of your tank at least weekly. Also, clean the outside of the aquarium glass now and then too. There is stuff you can buy which is supposed to help with cloudy water. I did not have much success. My cloudiness eventually just went away on its on.


To help you de-stress, just follow these guidelines and you will almost assuredly do well:

Temperature: Keep between 75-80 F

pH: Keep between 7.0-8.0

Nitrite: Should always be 0 in a cycled tank.

Ammonia: Should be 0 in a cycled tank (water conditioner will make some ammonia appear on a test, but it should go to 0 within 24 hours)

Nitrate: It's hard to find a good answer to this one online. Plenty of folks with freshwater tanks think levels up to 40 ppm are fine. Obviously their fish aren't immediately dying. Some folks say it needs to stay under 20 ppm. I have not found any studies which support one over the other. I personally am sticking to not letting it get over 40ppm, but I change water weekly and my nitrate levels never get close to that. To lower your nitrates - do a water change. Having lots of plants can potentially help slow down how quickly nitrate accumulates.

GH: 3-13

KH: If you're going to fuss with it, try to keep it around 3. However - if you change your water regularly (I do it weekly. I have a 20 gallon tank, so its not a huge deal for me) you likely dont need to worry about fussing with it.

Feed your fish once a day, no more than they can eat in 3 minutes.

Vacuum the bottom of the tank when you change the water

Scrub the inside of your tank glass weekly

Clean your filter weekly (put some aquarium water in a bucket, and swish the filter around to un-clog it. Don't rinse it in tap water, since that will kill the good bacteria)

Use water conditioner every time you change water

Use water conditioner every 24 hours whenever your tank isnt cycled (meaning nitrites are detectable or ammonia is reading 0 24 hours after using water conditioner)

If you are having a problem with green algae- Try to lessen the light exposure your tank gets AND/OR change the water more frequently AND/OR cut back how much you feed your fish (algae feed off of nitrate as well as phosphorous. Overfeeding will indirectly lead to an increase in nitrate and directly lead to an increase in phosphorous. Water changes will lower nitrate and phosphorous).





If you are cycling a tank with fish in it, I would recommend using seachem every 24 hours until your ammonia and nitrite levels are reading 0 (A note on this though: If your water has chloramine in it, seachem will turn the chloramine into ammonia. Whatever PPM chloramine was in your water will turn to that same PPM of ammonia. In a cycled tank, the ammonia should read 0 after 24 hours).

Fish *can* survive a cycle without doing anything special... but I would rather give them a good fighting chance. I had fish that went through a cycle. I was doing daily or every-other-day water changes until my tank cycled (my ammonia and nitrite levels would get very high very quickly). It wasn't a necessity though.. other people don't do this and report success.



Also, if you don't already have one... I highly recommend looking into a water changing tool like the Python. It is so much better than using buckets
 

jdhef

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You have a very low KH. KH is the measure of carbonates in the water. The higher the KH the less likely your pH is to change. So you're going to want to raise that KH level to stabilize your pH level. I have a low KH so I added crushed coral to into my filter. I have a canister filter so it was very easy to just add some lose crushed coral into one of the trays. But it f you have a Hang on the Back (HOB) filter, you can put some crushed coral into a media bag and it there is room stuff it into your filter box. If there is no room, you can put the media bag of crushed coral directly into your tank. Or if you don't like the look of the bag sitting in the tank, you can just mix loose crushed coral in with your substrate. A rule of thumb for how much crushed coral to add is 1 cup for 30g.

I would stay away from products chemical additives to adjust pH and hardness. They can lead to rapid pH swings that can kill your fish.

Also note that at a pH below 7 ammonia starts turning into ammonium. And by the time your pH gets down into the low 6's, all ammonia has turned into ammonium. The good think about ammonium is that it is far less toxic than ammonia (some claim it is non-toxic) but the bad thing is that ammonium is a terrible food source for the bacteria your trying to develop to cycle your tank. So with a pH in the low 6's, you will not be able to get your tank cycled.

Last thing I wanted to add is you wrote that you had bettas (plural) in your tank. It's usually not a good idea to have multiple bettas in a tank. Especially if they are all male or all male and female. Some people are able to pull of a sorority tank (all females) but even that is best left to experienced aquarists how have a back up plan if things go wrong. They are called Siamese Fighting Fish for a very good reason.

Best of luck!
 

e_watson09

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First advice regarding pH, don't use a chemical to change it. The biggest issue with pH is an unstable one that is changing. That is super stressful for fish. What is the pH of your tap water? Most fish honestly are fine in your tap pH as long as it stays stable, there are some fish that are more sensitive but the ones you mentioned generally are fine as long as its stable.

Like for example, I don't even test my pH regularly. I probably do every couple months or so.
 

StarGirl15

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My Ph is usually around 8.0 which is high for some of the fish I have. I think if its stable and they don't seem affected it's ok. Unless you have well water or a water softener your LFS's city water is probably the same as yours and the fish are generally used to it anyway.
 

Kryptos

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At the risk of being a beginner trying to give any advice I learnt a few things the past few months.

Folks at the shops generally want to make money. So they’ll shove all sorts of chemicals and things in your hands as a “solution”.

Then some of the best advice I got here was to relax and take the foot off the gas pedal. If your water quality is ok out the tap the fish can adapt. Better to have not 100% textbook conditions than have fluctuating conditions every week.

Water changes are important. And some larger water changes (up to 50%) can be good. I change every single week and have been doing 50% every other week and my water issues seem to have gone away.

I cycled without fish by never got told to add an ammo is source. So I have lost fish. If you lose fish don’t throw in the towel.

My five cents as a beginner who just went through water quality panic.
 
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MsRiss

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First off, it gets better, just be patient. My last tank had issues with Ph going from 7.2 to 6 and consistently staying there, I read up on everything, was frustrated, and eventually did try the baking soda method. But I really wish I hadn't, it fixed my tank for a day and then the next it plummeted. Someone on here just told me to leave it be and just do my water changes as normal (once a week with my already cycled tank) and since then it's fixed itself. I agree with midnight that you should worry more on cycling the tank right now and continuing to do your water changes. How often are you doing them?
Everyother day.
 

Ben3721

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Keep in mind your fish just survived a PH crash, dont whip the ph back up too fast. Ph should be controlled by buffers via acid buffer vs alkaline buffer ratios. The alkaline buffer sets the KH and the acid one at a certain ratio helps set the ph. Tanks with higher kh tend to have a higher ph. I would let the tank rest for a few days then add a little buffer over a week until it's just stable at like 3 kh. Ph up or down drops do not buffer, they only temporarily change ph, harming the fish. Just get your KH up to 3 and dont freak if the ph isn't exactly where your goal is. Your tank is cycling. Over time the ph will drift and settle.

You really are lucky. Ph crashes that drastic can kill entire tanks.


Another thing most dont know, beneficial bacteria strains can have preferred PH levels. So a large swing can cause a temporary ammonia spike. No guaranteed, but definitely worth watching.
 

Momgoose56

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55 gallon tank and cycling fish in with Cory's and bettas. pH started out at 8.2 in 1 day plummeted to 6.2. No fish loss. Everyone is accounted for. No one has dumped food in the tank. So I performed 50% water change per recommendations. Now my pH is still reading 6.2. After talking to my LPS I was told to test my waters KH and GH. So I have and results as follows KH 1 and GH 13... I'm so overwhelmed by this tank. The tank is cloudy, battling with the cycle, pH, now KH and GH. I bought some alkaline buffer today at my LPS but not sure if that would help or not. On the bottle it says to use with acid buffer which I didn't get... Shoot! So tomorrow I will be purchasing acid buffer. Are these problems normal? Can my tank even get through this? Do I even use the buffers? I need some serious help here. My husband's philosophy is to "leave it the alone and not even do water changes". Any advise?

I just read and watched a video on raising KH levels and pH levels with baking soda... Does anyone recommend this?
Jumping in here late but short and sweet. Baking soda can create a tank disaster. I strongly advise against it.
You can take care of your KH and stabilize your pH the easy permanent way by adding crushed coral or crushed aragonite to the bottom of your HOB filter overflow or top canister basket. The ratio is 1 cup per 30 gallons of tank volume, rinsed well and placed in a mesh media bag. That will slowly raise your KH and stabilize your pH so it doesn't drop after every water change.
 

TacoRoberts

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Ugh.. i made a typo and dont know how to edit.

A tank being cycled means that nitrites are *NOT* detectable, and that ammonia is reading 0.

If you've just changed water, give it 24 hours before testing.
 

candiedragon

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People are gonna give you different opinions so take most advice with a grain of salt, especially those who work at the store as in many cases they're just trying to upsell products.

Honestly your husband has good philosophy but you do want to maintain good water quality via water changes. Dont mess with additives that claim to change your pH unless you have thoroughly researched what you're doing, too much tinkering with it can do more harm than good.

There are great points about kH by jdhef and momgoose. KH has a direct effect on pH, as they said, the lower it is the more unstable your pH will be. Anything less than 3 kH could spell trouble if you're not mindful.

I do want to point out that there could be other reasons why you're going through what you are now. It could just be part of the cycling process, if you're not doing enough water changes then the acids from the fish waste could have quickly deteriorated your carbonates (kH).

You may want to buffer your kH naturally via crushed coral or aragonite IF your source water (whatever you're using to add to your tank) has low kH. If you have like 3kH base source water then you might need to up your water changes and/or cut back on feeding to slow down the process of the acid build up from eating away at the carbonates in the water.
 

Momgoose56

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People are gonna give you different opinions so take most advice with a grain of salt, especially those who work at the store as in many cases they're just trying to upsell products.

Honestly your husband has good philosophy but you do want to maintain good water quality via water changes. Dont mess with additives that claim to change your pH unless you have thoroughly researched what you're doing, too much tinkering with it can do more harm than good.

There are great points about kH by jdhef and momgoose. KH has a direct effect on pH, as they said, the lower it is the more unstable your pH will be. Anything less than 3 kH could spell trouble if you're not mindful.

I do want to point out that there could be other reasons why you're going through what you are now. It could just be part of the cycling process, if you're not doing enough water changes then the acids from the fish waste could have quickly deteriorated your carbonates (kH).

You may want to buffer your kH naturally via crushed coral or aragonite IF your source water (whatever you're using to add to your tank) has low kH. If you have like 3kH base source water then you might need to up your water changes and/or cut back on feeding to slow down the process of the acid build up from eating away at the carbonates in the water.
OP's KH is 1, GH is 13.
 
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